Fred Yates

Fred Yates (1922-2008)

Born in 1922, Fred Yates grew up in Urmston, a suburb of Manchester. His career as an insurance clerk was cut short by the outbreak of war and he served in the Grenadier Guards until 1945 when he returned to Manchester as a painter and decorator.

Untutored, but with tremendous self-discipline, Fred began to paint pictures of the rich industrial architecture of Manchester, the red brick terraces and the commotion and humour of street life – a theme with which Yates was occupied for his whole life. He subsequently enrolled on a teacher training course at Bournemouth College of Art and in 1950 won a travelling scholarship to Rome and Florence. He taught for twenty years battling continuously against artistic sophistication; for him, beauty resided in simplicity and a child’s mind.

In 1969 Yates gave up teaching and moved to Cornwall to enable him to devote all his energy to painting. While he still painted scenes remembered from his childhood in Manchester, he now worked in sunnier landscapes, with the new faces and activities that surrounded him and was dubbed ‘the happy Lowrey’. He painted almost exclusively outdoors – scenes of local village life, cliff top and beach scenes. It was around also this period, following the “St Ives 1939-64” exhibition at the Tate Gallery in London, that his association with St Ives began to result in greater commercial success.

During the 1990s Yates moved to France, to the village of Rancon in Haute-Vienne. Here he painted local scenes, met and encouraged local artists and worked with other British artists based in the area. He collected houses like people collect stamps and soon acquired several more properties, each as individual as himself. In his later years he bought a house in Chalancon in the Drome, where the light and air were more suited to a man in his 80’s. Despite advancing years he continued to paint regularly and travel widely right up until his death.

His paintings are included in many private and public collections including the Brighton and Hove Art Gallery, Liverpool University, the University of Warwick, the Torquay Art Gallery and the Russell Coates Gallery, Bournemouth.

He died in London on 7th July 2008

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