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Artist Tracey Emin is leaving London for Kent

Written by
Matt Breen

London is a fickle city. One minute it welcomes you with open arms; the next, it chews you up and spits you out. At least, that's what Tracey Emin feels at the moment. She made her name as a London-based artist back in the '90s, but after planning permission for an expansion of her east London studio was met with fierce resistance by council officials and campaigners, she's leaving the capital for her native Kent. 

Emin had wanted to build a five-storey house next to her studio on Bell Lane in Spitalfields, in order to merge her living and working spaces. (Sounds pretty good: there's no commute, and you can work in your pyjamas.) Trouble is, building a house would involve knocking down a building that dates back to the 1920s – and this wasn't well received by local conservation groups. So Emin has officially washed her hands of the situation, and has withdrawn the application to Tower Hamlets council. Instead, she's seeking out a new studio on the Kent coast, where there's a burgeoning art scene in towns like Margate, where she grew up.

It's ironic that Emin, who is worth millions, is joining waves of artists who are being forced out of east London by the rising prices that come with redevelopment. It could be argued that Emin's glitzy proposal for Bell Lane would have become part of the problem. Regardless, London's art scene has just suffered a high-profile casualty. Best of luck in Kent, Tracey.

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