Prolific poet-painter, collagist, draughtsman and film-maker, born in Belfast, who initially came to prominence in Northern Ireland when his poems were chosen for broadcast on BBC Radio Ulster in 1970. Two years later, he had a first solo exhibition at Tom Caldwell Gallery, Belfast. Yates’ life from then on saw successive bursts of literary and visual creativity, evident from the catalogue of his exhibition A Poet’s Paintings at Tom Caldwell in 2005, which saw the launch of Yates’ new collection of poems Mourne, with images by Basil Blackshaw. Collaboration with other creative people to produce work was a characteristic of Yates’ output. Notable events in Yates’ career included White Cat with a Human Face, Yates’ poems and drawings, 1974; Sky Made of Stone, war poems and drawings, and Yates’ “dialogue by exchange of postcards” with Samuel Beckett, both 1976; the Penta group show at Octagon Gallery, Belfast, Yates showing a photographic collage-assemblage in the form of a mock theatre and floor-based chalk drawings, 1977; Levitation and the Unfaithful Sentry, poems and songs, 1989; Masters of the Canvas, Yates’ international award-winning film collaboration with Peter Blake and Terence Donovan for BBC 2’s Arena, 1992; Suite of video artworks commissioned by Manako Corporation, Japan, 1999; East, Yates’ dramatic monologue based on childhood memories of east Belfast, published, accompanied by audio tapes performed by James Ellis, 2001; Autumn Windows, painting commission for King’s College, Cambridge, 2002; and the purchase of Yates’ Snowhead painting for the UTV collection, 2004.

Text source: 'Artists in Britain Since 1945' by David Buckman (Art Dictionaries Ltd, part of Sansom & Company)

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