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TALK OF THE TOWN: Artist Tracey Emin blasts ‘philistine’ Boris Johnson as her show closes

Shut down: Tracey Emin (pictured above), whose exhibition took three years to organise

Artist Tracey Emin has launched a furious assault on Government Ministers, calling them ‘philistines’ for keeping shops and gyms open in the Covid crisis but allowing galleries and museums to shut down.

Her latest exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts, which she says ‘kept her going’ through her battle with bladder cancer, was forced to close after London was put into to tier 3 last Monday.

As the capital headed into tougher restrictions, Tracey, 57, surprised security staff at the gallery by turning up and asking if they knew what would happen to her exhibition.

And now she has turned her wrath on Boris Johnson and Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden for failing to protect culture and arts – while backing shops and gyms.

Tracey told me: ‘The Government hasn’t bothered to distinguish between art and culture and nightclubs and gyms. How can a gym be open but not a museum? Boris Johnson needs to understand the difference between them.

‘How can Harrods be open, how can you have a bun fight in there but galleries be closed? Man can’t live on food alone, we need culture to make us feel full and whole. There is space in the museums, they’re safe and organised. Our politicians are philistines. I bet they haven’t bothered to go to the ballet, or to the National Gallery, to museums. I would quite like to know where they have been.’

Tracey’s exhibition, which was three years in the planning, is a collaboration with the work of the late Norwegian artist Edvard Munch, who painted the famous picture The Scream. It is due to finish on February 28 but despite being sold out – selling 16,000 advance tickets – it won’t be extended, as a David Hockney event will replace it.

Tracey turned up unannounced at the Royal Academy last Monday with a friend. A source there said: ‘She came in and spoke to me because she was really worried about London going into tier 3 and she was asking what it meant for her exhibition.’

Tracey has turned her wrath on Boris Johnson (pictured above, on Saturday) and Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden for failing to protect culture and arts – while backing shops and gyms

Tracey has turned her wrath on Boris Johnson (pictured above, on Saturday) and Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden for failing to protect culture and arts – while backing shops and gyms

Tracey, reportedly worth about £15 million, is one of the richest living artists. In 2014 she sold her famous My Bed installation for an eye-watering £2.2 million.

She was diagnosed with bladder cancer at the end of June and is in remission after major surgery.

Ross roasts Rita

Just about everyone has criticised Rita Ora for throwing a Covid rule-breaking 30th birthday party with 30 pals.

And now the pop star is getting it in the neck from her Masked Singer colleague Jonathan Ross. Asked about his Christmas, he quipped: ‘I’m going to be observing Government restrictions, so it will just be me and 30 people in a confined space…’

Jonathan Ross and Rita Ora, pictured. Asked about his Christmas, Ross quipped: ‘I’m going to be observing Government restrictions, so it will just be me and 30 people in a confined space'

Jonathan Ross and Rita Ora, pictured. Asked about his Christmas, Ross quipped: ‘I’m going to be observing Government restrictions, so it will just be me and 30 people in a confined space’

Ross was speaking at the launch of the new series of the ITV show, from which Rita was notably absent.

But it doesn’t sound as if the Ross family Christmas will be that much fun, as he has given up meat. ‘We went vegan this year,’ he said. ‘So I’ll be eating a Furkey… whatever that is.’

Celebs spouting nonsense

Hotel heiress Paris Hilton, pictured in November this year, said: ‘I could be in Dubai, then three days later Shanghai. I’m on a plane over 250 days a year'

Hotel heiress Paris Hilton, pictured in November this year, said: ‘I could be in Dubai, then three days later Shanghai. I’m on a plane over 250 days a year’

We mere mortals who slog away from nine to five have it easy, according to Paris Hilton. 

The hotel heiress, whose claim to fame is that she parties a lot, moans she spends all her time travelling the globe for ‘work’. 

‘I could be in Dubai, then three days later Shanghai. I’m on a plane over 250 days a year,’ Paris, 39, whines. 

‘Running so many businesses and brands, I have a lot of responsibilities, appearances, and photoshoots, as well as design meetings. Having to fly 20 hours somewhere, you might as well make as much money as possible.’ 

She could always fall back on her £222 million fortune – or get a proper job. 


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