Eleanor Birne


13 March 2019

The canvas went blue

In the early 1970s, Sargy Mann was diagnosed with cataracts. He continued to paint, but he had to look much harder than most people. Eventually he went completely blind, but kept on painting.


26 April 2011

In Margate

Turner Contemporary sits above Margate sands, a series of white boxes that, from a distance, looks like a municipal sports centre, but as you get closer and enter its immediate surroundings, pass the concrete benches and desert-chic flowerbeds and descend the gleaming white stairways, looks more like a piece of LA dropped into the down-at-heel Regency seaside town. But you can tell it's still Margate because the gallery café has shiny ashtrays on the terrace tables and serves fry-ups.


10 December 2009

On Her Own

Tracey Emin has complained to the police of 'harassment', after a spoof letter purportedly written by her was sent to some of her neighbours in Spitalfields. It was written in childish handwriting, similar to her now iconic style (but spelled correctly, which made it instantly suspect). It outlined her supposed plans for the Tenter Ground weaving works, an old Huguenot factory she is restoring: a swimming-pool was mentioned, along with the fact that she didn't like traditional building methods. She bought the building last year to a small fanfare of publicity. There was positive coverage in, among other places, the Observer ('Emin pays £4 million to save art district'), the Evening Standard (‘Emin weaves £4 million scheme to keep art in Spitalfields’) and the Times property supplement (‘Tracey Emin is leading the battle to save the "cultural heart" of East London from developers’). In interviews, Emin got all nostalgic, telling the Observer that the whole area used to be 'full of artists... the rents were still comparatively low and there were lots of our friends living around us and using freezing-cold studios.' Colliers, the agent who handled the sale of Tenter Ground, said she said she 'made the acquisition to ensure the building remained in use by artists'. This all sounds very altruistic and noble, until you read the bit where she says: 'I will be working there on my own.'