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Even someone of Emin’s vibrancy and rawness seems to need a bit of mid-life ease.‘I have been around the world. not embarrassed, but with the bed, when I made it, decided to present it as an artwork, I never thought it was going to be like it is.’ She means seminal, enduring and endlessly provocative.'It’s a time capsule of my life.There is a belt that used to go around my waist and now it only fits around my thigh.The council, she says, was ‘abhorrently terrible’ towards her and she felt the ‘animosity’ of people she’d thought of as neighbours.To understand how vulnerable she is to disapproval, you have to know that Emin, for all her success, still feels ‘physically attacked’ if a critic rounds on her.As well as the slippers she is wearing a utilitarian skirt and T-shirt, her only fanciness a pair of long silver starfish earrings, which seize the light in her bright white studio. Speaking of her emotional state she says: ‘Not being in a relationship really helps.Every time I have felt emotionally f***** is because someone, the wrong person, was f****** me, probably.
Then when I withdrew the application in December, they threatened to sue me for time-wasting and expenses incurred.’The row coincided with the loss of her mother Pam, whom she adored.
She was 88 and died of cancer last October, leaving Emin bereft.
A photographic portrait, at least a metre square, of mother and daughter cuddling hangs by her front door.
‘There is a belt that used to go around my waist and now it only fits around my thigh.
But I don’t smoke [she used to], I don’t have contraception, I don’t have periods any more or wear really tiny underwear – these are all things from the past.
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I have not been in a relationship now for eight or nine years.