Artist Tracey Emin officially opens TKE Studios and residency project – and reveals plans to buy Westbrook Loggia

Official opening of TKE by artist Tracey Emin and contributor Maxine Photo Frank Leppard

Artist Tracey Emin has cut the ribbon for the official opening of the TKE Studios (Tracey Karima Emin) and her artist residency project in Margate, adding to her growing portfolio of investment in the town.

Hundreds of people gathered in Victoria Road to watch the opening ceremony this morning (March 25) which featured music and a parade by 1st Margate Boys and Girls Brigade,  song Like A Prayer from the town’s Social Singing Choir and the ribbon cutting with oversized scissors.

Photo Paul McVay

Also present were Margate mayor and deputy mayor Cllrs Heather Keen and Rob Yates and council leader Cllr Ash Ashbee.

Amongst the crowd were well-known figures including Boomtown Rats frontman Bob Geldof and musician Jools Holland as well as celebrity potter Keith Brymer Jones.

Photo Paul McVay

Tracey Emin bought the former Edwardian bathhouse, mortuary and children’s nursery in November 2021 for £750,000. She has since spent upwards of £1million renovating and refurbishing the site.

It now consists of artist studios and gallery spaces to provide “a perfect working environment.”

Bob Geldof in the crowd Photo Frank Leppard

Ten artists from around the world, including Uganda, America and Margate, are occupying the studios which Tracey Emin is subsidising. There will be a schedule of visiting tutors and catering school The Best Place to Grow,  led by Margate restaurateurs Lee Coad and Charlotte Forsdike (of Angela’s and Dory’s).

Inside TKE

Ms Emin has also bought nearby flats which she is renting to her artists, again at a subsidised rate.

The artist also owns her studio/living space at the former Thanet Press site which she moved to in 2017, The Brown Jug pub in Broadstairs and the former Margate Constitutional Club and One Union Crescent.

Inside TKE

During her opening speech she revealed she has another property proposal and is planning to put in a bid to Thanet council to buy the Westbrook Loggia building at Westbrook Bay.

Inside TKE

She said: “My next project…(is) Westbrook pavilion, down on on the beach which is going completely derelict. It is a beautiful Art Deco looking building.

“I’m intending to put in a proposal to buy it.”

Photo Lee Collier

She added: “I plan to renovate it and make it into a swimming club, surfers club, hot showers for the winter swimmers, steam rooms, café, bijou restaurant and sundeck. I want the surfers to stay there, the lifeguards to stay there and want everyone from Margate to enjoy it and be able to use it.”

Photo Frank Leppard

Ms Emin says she plans to submit the proposal next week and expects the project to cost “a couple of million.”

Last year Thanet council approved plans to sell the Loggia building, which was originally constructed as a bathing pavilion in the early 1900s.

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Opening the TKE building Ms Emin said: “This is better than I could ever dreamt or ever imagined. When I was grew up in Margate as a little girl that(opposite) was my library, the Sunday School was around the corner that I wasn’t allowed to go to after I was followed home. Margate was such a different place and I am so proud of everybody who has been part of this project and part of Margate’s regeneration generally.”

Photo Frank Leppard

Talking of her pride in Margate and of being part of its regeneration, she added: “Wherever the arts go, commerce follows except this time we got here first and we’ve nailed it.

Photo Frank Leppard

“Margate is ours, it’s our town it’s our creative mecca and we are going to make it more creative and more available for creative people to live here.”

Ms Emin said by doing that it would help everyone in Thanet including the “18,000 living below the poverty line.”

Photo Paul McVay

Ms Emin wore her Margate Freewoman’s robes for the occasion saying: “I am very proud donning my robe, tricorn hat and medal. I’m very proud of Margate.”

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The ten artists have been in residency for the last three weeks and will be provided with an 18-month course, with a year of tuition and six months of preparation for a show.

Inside TKE

Some £2.3million funding was secured for the studios when Ms Emin sold her artwork Like a Cloud of Blood.

The piece was one of the first paintings she created following her treatment for bladder cancer. She was diagnosed with the disease in spring 2020 and underwent an operation in the Summer which meant the removal of many of her female reproductive organs and the need for a stoma bag. The 59-year-old is now in remission.

The painting was auctioned by Christies last year with the money going into Ms Emin’s foundation to support current and emerging artists at the new studios.

Following the opening event Cllr Rob Yates said: “Every town needs a Tracey Emin.”

Find the studios at:

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  1. She certainly does a good job with her properties. I too would love to buy the Westbrook building but I can’t afford it yet.

  2. Great to hear that one Thanet’s best beaches is now going to receive a huge boost having been ignored by TDC for so long that it hasn’t even had any permanent café facility for about 4-5 years now. The plans seem to meet all the key requirements for the building.

    • “it hasn’t even had any permanent café facility for about 4-5 years now.”

      Eh, the bus cafe has been there longer than that?

  3. I am just so excited about this news as a all year round user of this beach. As a regular swimmer at Westbrook beach and a life long user, it has been very sad to watch it’s decay. It really deserves a bit of tender loving care having been severely neglected for so long and Tracey Emin is just the person to sort it. She is as proud of her roots as I am and will certainly give it the restoration it needs. TDC would be mad not to listen to any plans she might have.

  4. And not one piece of art was seen in the photos. Are the men & women signs for toilets? Or are they segregating based on the sexes? Has she forgotten the LGQTIAFNSZ lot?

    • No, try and think of the era in which the building was first constructed, just like many schools and establishments of the time people went in via girls/ boys or men/womens entrances. It’s nothing more than the preservation of a little bit of historical architecture.

    • You ignorant twat. Steve. Why don’t you stop making these comments? They just make you look like a philistine.

  5. Following the opening event Cllr Rob Yates said: “Every town needs a Tracey Emin.”

    If any futher proof of how TDC/KCC have for the last decade plus lost their minds & wallets for the modern art rubbish was required, then here it is.

  6. I think the old adage “ if you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything” should apply here. A person doing a lot ( wether you like her art or not) for the area should be welcomed, not castigated. Good luck to her and hope the Westbrook project goes well.

    • I think the other proposal is good & may benefit the community. This one-a waste of time & she doesn’t explain how awful random doodles on canvas will benefit the 18,000 ‘non-creatives’ below the poverty line.

      But if she is funding it herself/via donations from the champagne sipping art elite 100% & it isn’t going to be screwing the taxpayers like the money losing leeches at Turner & Dreamland then great.

      • “Champagne sipping art elite”! It’s quite depressing to see that people who seem to know nothing about modern art and artists are using these silly cliches. Is this phrase the art-targeted equivalent of “Islington champagne socialists”? What about “champagne-guzzling highly-paid footballers”? Do people who are bored to tears by sport (of whom I am one) say that kind of thing?

        • Well Phyllida, whenever they are pictured it is with champagne glasses in their hands & who else can afford to waste millions on dirty beds & vomit looking etchings?

          Sport actually produces artists-Federer, Cruyff, O’Sullivan etc. Just look at the nonsense being presented in the pictures on this page & say honestly they are art & not something that just looks like the zero effort random scribblings of a child.

          • Who are Federer, Cruyff and O’Sullivan?

            I have hardly ever seen a photo of an artist with a glass or cup of anything in their hand. I could not “say honestly” if something was or was not art, but I could say honestly whether in my opinion something was or was not art.

          • No, Steve. Logically speaking, sports creates sports people.

            Its quite clear you’re bitterly jealous she’s making bank from her “random scribblings”. I mean, why else would you be SO salty about someone doing some painting, that doesn’t affect you, or your life in any way, shape or form?

      • You may be right Samantha-not for the ‘art’ for the select few. But if her name can get things moving for the benefit of the area as it regards her proposed facilities for activities to improve physical & mental health, making something of shamefully long abandoned/neglected assets by TDC-who have thrown all the money at Turner & Dreamland.

        Maybe being of a perfomer/creative/arts bent she might be able to use her considerable fame & influence/leverage to help restore The Winter Gardens, Theatre Royal, the High Street etc to former glories, or at least a decent level.

  7. What has happened to the East Kent ITec? Are they still on site somewhere round the back, or have they moved elsewhere/gone bust? Their website is as dead as a Dodo.

  8. Good on Ms Emin, forged her own path using her own money to do what she feels is the right thing, if it doesn’t work out i don’t expect she’ll start whining to all and sundry about life not being fair, just as i also wouldn’t think she’ll be crowing in the press if its a resounding success.
    She’s given a very down at heel part of margate a real boost with her investing in the building, just look at the state of the rented properties on the other side of the street, perhaps the esteemed councillors would like to take the owners to task and get them improved, which they won’t because historically the buildings have housed some of thanets least desirable tenants and the council is happy to let sleeping dogs lie. When the complaints about the rubbish outside them mount up the landlord / council clears it up and the cycle continues. Hopefully the boost this project gives the area will lead to wider improvements.
    As for the Loggia , the intervention by someone like Ms Emin is the only way it’ll retain any great degree of community benefit, the council should help facilitate her buying it and then just let her get on with it.

  9. Well done Emin , It seems not only Margates creatives are to benefit from a return to her home town following her dramatic departure from Spitalfields, with this exciting initiative and the possible loggia proposal,pleasingly for the benefit of everyone in margate .

  10. i totally agree with lc on this im a painter and decorator and i have done painting work for tracie emins art director i am now doing some painting for mike and jane who have moved down from york and have brought the old shopjust round the corner next to the jehovahs witnesses site unfortunately the outside has been graffitied no banksy

    • I wonder with the supposedly new(Blair, Cameron & Johnson all announced similar things to zero effect) announcements of building graffiti & forcing those responsible to clean it up, along with cleaning police cars(no greater sign of the drunken power madness of the police & government) or go to jail if it will just apply to the poverty plebs, or the likes of Banksy?

      No doubt like Emin’s dirty bed selling for millions whereas ours would be deemed a public health hazard & we would be charged for them taking it to the tip, Mr Banksy with his millions will of course be treated differently & feted by the government, police, councils & media/IOTN commentators feral yobbos brigade when he does his random vandalism.

      • God almighty, Steve! Forget about the Emin bed installation, can you? You pathetic bitter person. That was years ago- she’s moved on.

        • Steve seems to blame everyone in his orbit for his life being crap, Emins bed just being the latest, on trend one. Maybe its time Steve applied self reflection.

  11. i love steves comments – bang on ! remember steve art, is whatever you can get away with , this lot are doing it at the double

  12. I browse through the comments below articles on here and do feel rather sorry for the miserable sods who feel the need to piss and moan all the time – it’s obviously the only way they know to make themselves feel significant; putting down the efforts of others, rubbishing the hopes and dreams of people who try and make a difference, and getting kicks from cheap “whataboutery” – do they actually believe they are being clever or original?
    So in response:
    You are boring, your comments puerile, and frankly nobody cares what the hell you are getting so worked up about – times move on, maybe you should too…

    • I prefer to live in the past Sir. However I think Emin could be a force for good in Margate-not for this nonsense of course. Although this could hopefully well be the beginning of the end for Turner getting endless sums of money from TDC & KCC to burn every year-if TE can fund this doodles & things being stuck to the floors & walls routine herself, then it really makes Turner 10-15 minutes walk away totally redundant.

      But she has financial resources, fame & with that a huge leverage on TDC & KCC. I admire her spunk-not that on her dirty bed debacle, but she is clearly a woman of considerable means & determination to get things done here.

      Her proposal for Westbrook sound very interesting & admirable, as it benefits the whole community & if she can get the other disgracefully abandoned by TDC/KCC arts centres the Winter Gardens & Theatre Royal back up & running via her leverage with said councils & her fortune, then she could actually be the best thing to happen to Thanet/Margate in decades.

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