15 August, 2022

Margate Charter Trustees confer Freewoman of Margate honour on Tracey Emin

The Margate Charter Trustees conferred Tracey Emin with the title of Honorary Freewoman of Margate on Friday 12 August. 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 this honour in Margate. The three previous recipients were honoured by the Borough of Margate.

The ceremony took place at Ms Emin’s studio in Union Crescent, Margate, and was attended by Ms Emin, The Worshipful the Town Mayor of Margate Cllr Heather Keen; Cllr Rob Yates, Deputy Mayor; Mrs Iris Johnston, Burgess of Margate and past Mayor of Margate; Cllr Mick Tomlinson, Burgess of Margate and past Mayor of Margate. Cllr Ash Ashbee, Leader of Thanet District Council and Cliff East, Mace-bearer, also attended, with Ingrid Spencer, Clerk to the Margate Charter Trustees and Mrs Shirley Tomlinson, past Mayoress of Margate. 

Cllr Heather Keen, Mayor of Margate 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. Today 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.”

Tracey Emin, Freewoman of Margate 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 Ash Ashbee, Leader of Thanet District Council said: “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 Ms 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. 

Tracey Emin on the beach with Free Woman written in the sand

Photo credits: Tracey Emin and Frank Leppard Photography

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