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Fred Yates is best known for his vibrant landscapes, swathed in radiant sunshine and joie de vivre. He enjoyed painting the daily lives and colourful characters around him. His distinctive style makes his work easily recognisable and highly sought after.
Fred Yates was born in Urmston a suburb of Manchester in July 1922. After a spell as an insurance clerk he served in the Grenadier Guards during the war and then returned to civvy street as a painter and decorator.
Fred began painting the rich industrial landscape of Manchester, capturing the city with humour and vitality. He signed up for a teacher training course in Bournemouth and in 1950 won a travelling scholarship to Rome and Florence.
By 1970 Yates was living and working in Cornwall. He painted almost exclusively outdoors – scenes of local village life, cliff top and beach scenes. Following the ‘St Ives’ exhibition at the Tate Gallery where his work was purchased by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Yates forged his success. Cornwall provided boundless inspiration, but he also continued to paint scenes of Manchester.
In the early 1990’s Fred moved to France to a small village called Rancon in department 87, Haute-Vienne. Here, new scenes, colours and characters burst onto his canvases. He became a master of his fresh and lively, thick impasto scenes where he was known to paint direct from the tube, often using his fingers to apply the paint. A likeable character, Fred met and encouraged local artists and worked with British artists in the area. He collected houses like people collect postage stamps and each house was as individual as himself.
Yates died of a heart attack on returning to England in July 2008. He is buried in one of his favourite spots in Cornwall overlooking Saint Michael’s mount.