The British artist had donated More Passion in 2011, when David Cameron was prime minister. The neon artwork was hung outside the Terracotta Room, which derives its name from the colour in which it is painted and serves as a reception room.
More Passion's place made it visible to many of 10 Downing Street’s visitors.
“This is my neon that hangs at 10 Downing Street. It was a gift from myself to the government art collection,” Emin said in an Instagram post on Wednesday. “I am now in the process of requesting that my artwork be removed from 10 Downing Street. I feel More Passion is the last thing this present government needs. This current situation is shameful.”
The UK government has recently come under scrutiny for the staff parties it held during lockdown. The artist later told The Guardian that Boris Johnson’s behaviour over the “partygate” scandal was “bizarre”.
“I gave [the artwork] as a gift, I’m not asking for it back,” she said. “The artwork belongs to the government, not whoever’s in power right now. It could hang in the British embassy in Cairo, or go back into storage. There are many places it could go, but just right at the moment I don’t think it’s a very good idea if it’s at 10 Downing Street.”
The fact the government was hosting parties while people were “holding funerals through their telephones” is shameful and “people were really hurt by this”, Emin told the UK publication. “Everybody throughout society has suffered through Covid. I just find the [prime minister’s] behaviour and lack of contrition bizarre."
Emin has created work using a range of media, from drawing, painting and sculpture to neon text, film and sewn needlework.
In 1999, she was nominated for the coveted Turner Prize for her installation My Bed. The work comprised an unmade bed in which she spent several weeks while in a severe state of emotional flux.
Emin was appointed professor of drawing at the Royal Academy of Arts in 2011, becoming one of the first two female professors, along with Fiona Rae, since the institution was founded in 1768.
More Passion is one of 14,000 artworks in the government art collection. Most of the works are exhibited in buildings in the UK and embassies the world over. The works are primarily by British artists and date back to the 16th century.