Fred Yates was an English painter known for his colourful scenes of coastal life. Born in Lancashire in 1922, Yates began his artistic career relatively late in life. Initially working as an insurance clerk, he served in the Grenadier Guards during World War II. It was only after the war, whilst working as a painter and decorator in Manchester, that Yates began to develop his lively style of artistic – rather than plaster – painting. During much of the 1950s and 1960s, he worked as a schoolteacher in the coastal towns of Bournemouth and Brighton. It was only in 1969, aged 47, that Yates focused his efforts on painting full-time.
Yates found himself working as an artist in Fowey, Cornwall during the 1970s, painting enigmatic tableaux of local villages alongside well studied beach scenes. His reflections of everyday life and of the environment around him were most often brightly coloured, featuring layer upon layer of vivid paint and lively figures, at once expressionistic yet figurative. The 1980s saw Yates rise to prominence as a staple of the Penwith and Newlyn art scenes so popular in and around his adopted home of Cornwall. His career developed from strength to strength in the 1990s. Relocating from small town England to rural France, Yates continued to paint warm scenes of local life and joie de vivre first in Provence and later in the Haute-Vienne, an area as hilly and inspiring as his beloved Cornwall, until his death. Whilst he was considered by many to be too accomplished to be a true naïve painter Yates’ work exhibited a sense of freedom and playfulness that, upon closer inspection of his crowded figures and bold landscapes, quietly explored isolation within the outward sense of vivacity. The artist died in 2008. His work can be seen today in several regional collections throughout Britain.