Article type Event
Published 31st May 2014
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Painting mostly from their imaginations, a devoted group of artists occupies a small enclave on Greenwich Market, known as ‘The Artists’ Quarter’.
For more than 25 years, Greenwich Market has been one of the best places in London to buy unique pieces of original artwork and crafts sold by designer makers, with an eclectic mix of stalls and shops, as well as places to eat and drink, all under one roof.
There are several entrances into the market and in one, Durnford Street, every weekend you will find an outdoor gallery of paintings by a nucleus of three or four, sometimes five or six artists. One of them is James Yates.
“The reason we built up the Artists’ Quarter is to showcase original art sold by the artists themselves,” James explains. He spent years living on the streets of London but has reinvented himself through his paintings.
James, who is self-taught and paints pictures “from my imagination”, explains that the work he has on show – comprising atmospheric paintings of black and white trees in a dark landscape, some with a glowing red light in the background – involves the application of “three different media”.
“It’s basically a black and white painting,” he explains. “I start with black gesso to black the canvas. Then the picture is built up in layers around the light spot. The main trees are painted in shiny water-based oil, then acrylics.” He says he spends three days a week painting and treats his art “as a hobby”.
“If I sell a painting, it’s a bonus,” he says. “I’m not on the internet. I paint when I’m inspired to paint, not when I have to. I won’t do prints and I won’t do galleries.” He does, however, exhibit at the annual Untitled Art Fair at Chelsea Town Hall.
James sums up the Artists’ Quarter by saying, “Greenwich Market is a fun place to be and it’s a joy for us to be here and be a part of it.”
He adds: “You have everything you want here: good food, good people. I enjoy talking to people. I was a chronic alcoholic but I’ve mellowed out now. Now I’ve got a life. Art has saved my life.”