Tracey Emin has revealed she has not had sex in six years as she told how she enjoys being “permanently single”.

The 54-year-old British artist, best known for her groundbreaking 1998 installation My Bed that faced audiences with a scene of used condoms and dirty underwear, said that choosing to abstain from physical relationships in recent years has helped to keep her emotionally healthy.

Now single for almost a decade, she told the Daily Mail newspaper : “Not being in a relationship really helps. Every time I have felt emotionally f * is because someone, the wrong person, was f ** me, probably.

“I have not been in a relationship now for eight or nine years. I don’t think I am celibate, I think I abstain from sex. Abstaining means I don’t want to have sex. Celibate means you might want to, but you don’t.”

She continued: “For the past 20 years, if I have not been in a relationship then usually I have not had sex. It has to come with love for me. So, now I am permanently single and I kind of enjoy it.”

Asked when she last had sex, she said “five or six years ago” but admitted she did not miss it since going through the menopause.

Her comments came as she rebuilds My Bed for display at the Turner gallery in Margate.

The artist, who is leaving her London life to move back to her childhood home of Margate, says the piece does not have the same relevance to her as it did almost two decades ago.

She described: “These are all things from the past. It’s like a ghost.”

Emin also told how her return to Margate followed the death of her beloved mother, Pam, who died of breast cancer a year ago.

She summarised that the move is “to do with humility and understanding”.