We find here an influence of the Fauves, Impressionists, Post Impressionists particularly Vincent, a little Alfred Wallis and naivety, moving onto self confidence and assurance to develop a unique personal style. A potent mix of styles. Fred Yates – Cornwall’s Lowry – and I’d like to ignore influences and look at Fred’s work as ‘standalones’. They deserve that and not some spin off from other artists.
This is Fred Yates – Cornwall’s Lowry
Never heard of him? That would not be unusual and it’s only thanks to the brilliant Penlee House Gallery in Penzance Cornwall that we stumbled, albeit deliberately, on this most unusual and inspiring artist.
A brief bio…
Fred Yates was born in 1922 (hence the exhibition at Penlee) He had a twin brother Arthur, both raised in an apparently cold, undemonstrative household.
We are told that Fred was a gentle unassuming man, not overly assured in himself, fearful of close relationships. This maybe why he fell into clerical work initially rather than the financially risky world of art.
This changed when Arthur was reported missing in 1944. Fred was left severely bereft and the loss remained with him all his years (see if you can spot the twins and families in many of his works).
Giving up his clerical job, he trained at Bournemouth College of Art and became an art teacher in South West England, a job he thoroughly disliked. At age 46 in 1968, he left teaching to realise his passion as a fine artist.
It was, however, during his time as a teacher that he began to recognise his real ambition to become an artist. In the early 1950s, he entered a Football Association competition to depict the ‘wonderful game’. He came second only to LS Lowry (Going to the Match – sold in 2022 for £7.3 million). If Lowry hadn’t entered the competition we may never have heard of him and Yates may have become a household name in his stead.
So what is unique about Fred Yates’ work? I mentioned above the possible influences on his emerging style. These can quite clearly be seen in the paintings completed in Cornwall on display at Penlee House.
One can see from the development of his style the emerging assurance in his work which enabled him to produce pictures that make him stand out from other artists.
During his lifetime he did sell, successfully. He made a living from his art during his lifetime and this naturally would have enhanced his feeling of assurance and self confidence
His pictures are most unique and confident. Fun and bustling. Almost surreal, totally genre and absorbing in their detail. Bold colours, heavy brush and even finger/hand strokes, vibrancy and a breath of fresh air. As far away from ‘academic salon art’ as one could wish to be.
Let his work speak for itself… Fred Yates – Cornwall’s Lowry
… so why isn’t he more well known … ?