The doors to the National Portrait Gallery are soon to reopen to the public, and its first visitors will see a new commission by British artist Tracey Emin CBE RA.

Across the three new doors of the Gallery, the new public artwork consists of illustrations cast in bronze, on 45 individual door panels.

Titled ‘The Doors (2023)’, the work features illustrations hand drawn by Emin in clay, which were then cast into the metal. Emin’s finger and thumbprints are visible in metal, as Emin used her hand to transfer works originally painted in acrylic on paper.

Tracey Emin in her Studio
Tracey Emin in her Studio © Harry Weller

The gallery said the illustrations are “a celebration of women from different walks of life, known and unknown” to “counterbalance the sculpted roundels, carved into the Gallery’s façade, depicting prominent male figures from history.”

The panels are Emin’s contemporary response to the under-representation of women in historical art collections, the Gallery said.

On the work, Emin said: “I didn’t want to depict specific or identifiable figures. I felt like the doors of the National Portrait Gallery should represent every woman, every age and every culture throughout time.

“I want people to stand in-front of the doors and say, ‘she looks like my mother, she looks like my best friend, my daughter’. People might also relate and see an element of pain or heartbreak in the images.”

One of 45 panels from The Doors (2023) by Tracey Emin, in situ at the National Portrait Gallery © Olivier Hess.

Emin was among those to greet the Princess of Wales during an opening ceremony which took place yesterday, 20 June, ahead of its public reopening tomorrow, 22 June 2023.

Nicholas Cullinan, the Gallery’s Director, said conversations about adding a “human touch” to the doors of the Gallery had begun in 2020, after which Emin’s involvement was sought.

“She has created something perfect for its context, that is moving yet monumental and that we hope everyone who walks through our doors will enjoy and relate to,” said Cullinan.

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Image: The Doors (2023) by Tracey Emin at the new National Portrait Gallery © Olivier Hess