Press preview: Tracey Emin at The Hayward Gallery

Here’s some friendly advice. if you’re planning on visiting Tracey Emin: Love Is What You Want at The Hayward, go twice. There’s a lot to take in, and none of it’s skippable, so either factor in a good three hours or split it into two visits. As a lover of nosing around people’s personal artefacts, there was plenty to keep me engrossed, from reading Emin’s handwritten anecdotes (sometimes funny, mostly heartfelt) to watching the short films to studying the memorabilia that made up her first exhibition, ‘Tracey Emin: My Major Retrospective 1963-1993’.

The applique blankets look fantastic double hung as you enter the exhibition. Only problem is you must read the framed four page fax from papa Emin as you enter – not easy when you’re jostling with god knows how many other keen visitors. The famous unmade bed is absent – it’s being saved for a Saatchi exhibition next year, and also the curators were keen to show less famous works. The neons are of course, wonderful to behold (there’s an entire wall of them), as are the embroidered works which are worth seeing close up…

Tracey Emin Love Is What You Want is at The Hayward Gallery from 18 May – 29 August 2011, 10am-6pm (Thurs/Fri til 8pm)