Cornwall Contemporary 1 Parade Street, Penzance

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Fred Yates

2 - 31 December 2015

Fred YatesFred Yates ‘Penzance to Provence’

An exhibition at Cornwall Contemporary 2nd – 30th December 2015
Cornwall Contemporary gallery in Penzance celebrates the life and work of an extraordinary artist – Fred Yates (1922 – 2008).

This special exhibition by one of the UK’s most important naïve artists, includes over 40 oil paintings and watercolours of Cornwall and France where the artist lived.
Born in Manchester in 1922, Fred Yates worked as an insurance clerk, before serving as a Grenadier Guardsman in the war. He taught art for many years, then moved to Cornwall in 1970, where he started to paint full-time. His idiosynchratic paintings became easily identified by their brilliant vibrant colour, often squeezed straight from the tube.

“Using an instantly recognisable style that heaped bright colour and thick paint onto strongly designed figure or townscape compositions, Yates integrated faux-naïf and sophisticated impulses within the same work. His
poetic, deeply empathetic vision of carnivals, parades, processions and other almost tribal rituals reflected the fact that Yates, a restless traveller, painted en plein air wherever he went.”
Peter Davies, The Independent 2011

Whilst in Cornwall, Yates painted almost exclusively outdoors – scenes of local village life, clifftop and beach scenes and it was around this period that Yates’ commercial success began after the “St Ives 1939-64” exhibition at the Tate Gallery in London. At this time, Yates had a solo exhibition in Geneva which saw some of his work purchased by Henri Cartier-Bresson.
He later moved to rural Provence to paint until his death in 2008 when he had returned to the UK to live.

“I have eaten in my lovely restaurant”, he wrote from Provence. “I arrived 1.30pm, did two lovely paintings on canvas, walked back to Hotel Meurice, changed., walked 2/3 km to Le Restaurant au Port de Nice. Ate, drank, met friends, drank again, and here I am – a lifetime in a day. Isn’t it wonderful? ….My dear old Dad never knew a day like I experience.”

Yates has gained recognition as one of Britain’s most distinctive painters with successful exhibitions worldwide. Yates’ paintings inspire a devoted following and his works can be found in private collections in France, UK, Canada and the United States of America. His paintings are also found in numerous public collections including Brighton and Hove Art Gallery, Liverpool University, The University of Warwick and Torquay Art Gallery. 11 of his paintings are also featured on the BBC archive “Your Paintings – Uncovering the Nation’s Art Collection.


“I lived next door to Fred Yates at Cape Cornwall in the late 1980’s and he was an amazing, eccentric character. One day he popped round to see me and, very excitedly said “Neil, come and have a look at this.” He’d made the discovery that his house was larger on the outside than it was on the inside and so we came to the conclusion that there might be another room there somewhere. Fred fetched a sledgehammer and told me to punch a hole through the wall which I did and we discovered a little room containing a milk pail and milking stool which had obviously been used as a dairy and then bricked up at some point.
Fred then decided to fill the ‘secret room’ with paintings and he put about 30 or so canvases in there, absolutely ramming them in. He called me round again a few days later to show me that he’d bricked it up to ‘rediscover’ it again a year later and lo and behold, a year later he asked me to come and witness him pulling the wall apart to rediscover all of his paintings.

He really was a one off.”
Neil Pinkett, November 2015

Own Art
with an interest free loan
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Cornwall Contemporary
1 Parade Street
Queens Square
TR18 4BU

Telephone: 01736 874749

opening times:
monday - Saturday  10 - 5

Gallery Director:
Sarah Brittain-Mansbridge

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