Downing Street is to hold talks with the artist Tracey Emin after she said one of her works should no longer hang inside No 10 because of her concerns about alleged parties inside the building.
The artwork, More Passion, which has red neon lettering spelling out the words of the title, has been on display inside 10 Downing Street for a decade, since it was put there during David Cameron’s time in office.
Emin said she wanted it taken down as she felt a neon work was associated with a party atmosphere, and those in No 1o did not need “any encouragement on this level”.
Asked about her request, Johnson’s spokesperson said: “My understanding is that the work was gifted to the government art collection with an agreement to initially display it in No 10. We will obviously now discuss the location of the work with the artist, and I believe it will remain part of the government art collection that displays works in a number of locations.”
In an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, Emin said reports of lockdown-breaching parties inside Downing Street has given her misgivings about its location.
“I don’t want the work back, because I donated it,” she said. “I would simply like at the moment for it to be taken down, because the neon is notoriously for a party atmosphere. You have them at funfairs, casinos, bars or whatever. I really do not feel that No 10 needs any encouragement on this level.”
Emin said Boris Johnson had told her he liked the work being in No 10, but added: “I want it taken down and this government, I will tell you what they need, they need compassion. That’s what they need, not passion. They don’t need more party atmosphere.
“Most of us are obeying the rules in every single way because this pandemic has affected everybody, whether it is financially, whether it was health-wise, people dying or whatever. And this government doesn’t seem to care about that.”
The government art collection, comprising 14,000 works, displays them in official buildings around the UK and in embassies and consulates overseas.
A spokesperson for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, which administers the collection, said: “When an artwork comes into the government art collection, the collection can display the work at any of its 365 locations. On occasions the collection may consult with an artist when a work is going to a specific location.”