“People who love my work, love it,” Tracey Emin told BBC News in 2005. “People who don’t like my work think it’s sentimental and crass”.

It’s a neat summary of the divisive nature of the artist’s work – which ranges from an exhibition of her own bed, complete with stained sheets and dirty underwear, to spidery drawings and large-scale neon works.

Tracey Emin has represented Britain at the Venice Biennale. She has received prestigious academic appointments and honours including a CBE (Commander of the British Empire). But she has also been reviled by critics and the tabloid press, and appeared drunk and incoherent on live television.

Throughout 20 years in the public eye, Tracey Emin has spoken regularly to the BBC. In a series of clips collected to celebrate her 50th birthday on 3 July, she discusses dealing with her detractors, destroying her student works and why “art is like a lover”.

If you would like to comment on this story or anything else you have seen on BBC Culture, head over to our Facebook page or message us on Twitter.