Artist Tracey Emin has been made an Honorary Freewoman of Margate.
The Margate Charter Trustees conferred Tracey Emin with the titleat a ceremony yesterday (August 12).
Ms Emin received the honour in recognition of her international acclaim as an artist and her investment in the cultural and physical environment of Margate.
This is the first time that the Charter Trustees have conferred the honour and Ms Emin is only the fourth woman ever to receive it. The three previous recipients were honoured by the Borough of Margate.
The honour was suggested earlier this year but outgoing Margate mayor Cllr Mick Tomlinson. Talking at the time he said: “I have had the great privilege of honouring Tracey Emin with a Freeman of Margate award. It was something that came up in conversation with my wife in the winter months and I’m glad to say everyone agreed.
“She has invested in Margate, putting a lot of money into our town and we should be proud of that.
“It was an announcement at my finale and I was not aware at the time but Tracey was in the audience.”
The ceremony took place at Ms Emin’s studio in Union Crescent and was attended by the artist, Margate Mayor Cllr Heather Keen; deputy mayor Cllr Rob Yates; Iris Johnston, Burgess of Margate and past Mayor of Margate; Cllr Mick Tomlinson, Burgess of Margate and past Mayor of Margate and Cllr Ash Ashbee, Leader of Thanet District Council.
Tracey Emin said: “This really is such a nice thing to receive. I’ve always loved Margate and championed it as a place, but now I can honestly say I’m very proud of all the changes that are happening here.
“I’m very happy that I returned to be part of it. I’d love to see Margate become the European town of culture in 2030.”
Cllr Keen said: “The Margate Charter Trustees really wanted to recognise Tracey’s contributions to the town, both for her artistic and philanthropic work. Tracey has spoken openly about returning to Margate and making it her home, and this seemed like a fitting honour, borne from an original suggestion by Cllr Mick Tomlinson.
“The day is extra special for us as it marks the first time that we have bestowed the title of Honorary Freewoman in the 50 year history of the Margate Charter Trustees.”
Cllr Ashbee added: “Margate is flourishing as a centre of creativity and the fact that Tracey Emin is now living and working here can only help to increase Margate’s profile and further help the regeneration of the town.
”’I’m delighted to have been invited to join the celebrations today which recognise the valuable contribution that Tracey has made to our original seaside resort.”
The Margate Charter Trustees commissioned a traditional robe in Margate’s town colours, which Tracey Emin wore along with a badge and specially commissioned ‘jabot’, or ornamental ruffle.
The jabot was designed and made by Stacey Chapman, a local artist who specialises in working in textiles. Ms Emin’s name will be added to the Margate Charter Trustees’ Honours Board, alongside the likes of Winston Churchill who became a Freeman of Margate in 1957.