Lives and works in France
2006 – MA, Fine Art Printmaking, Royal College of Art, London
1987 – BA (Hons) Fine Art Printmaking, Central St Martins, London
In her landscape photographs, Coates depicts the unsettling nature of loss and beauty, dread and longing. Perceptive to the non-apparent, being and non-being, she speaks of this longing as feeling like nostalgia, but not for something once had and has since been lost, but more a nostalgia for what never was. Coates explains, “The grandiose landscape that surrounds me, whilst strikingly beautiful, remains utterly at a distance and unavailable to interpretation. It keeps me from myself, and torments me with its total inaccessibility.” For Coates, this void sets up a kind of death space, where connection and intimacy are longed for but remain forever elusive. Her method then, is to have ‘conversations’ with individual motifs – a rock, a pool of water, a wooden stump – allegories for wider narratives that speak of our mysterious relationship to the ‘otherness’ of beauty, and of the natural world in the face of our own mortality. She continues, “I want to make work that expresses the idea of beauty as signifying that death is ever present, that the creative impulse is intertwined with our own temporality”.
Her most recent work explores a different kind of void through a series of text works. Using words from imagined French film titles to suggest story telling where in fact there are none, she emphasizes the intrinsic relationship between melancholy and illusion. Acting as a metaphor for the gulf between our imagined, illusionary future and what she believes are ecological realities, she expresses her dread at the disappearing natural world.
A London born artist, Coates has for the last 14 years been living and working in a remote part of the Haut Provence in the South of France. Having been a relief printer for many years, her practice since living in France has been centered mostly on Photography. Her prints often, though not always, leave the rectangular form, or work themselves into wooden structures that help to widen her references beyond traditional photography. In fact she does not see herself as a Photographer at all, and only uses the various smart phones she’s had over the years. ‘The lenses in these smart phones are all really different, and I enjoy having to discover their potential as well as working with their limitations’. They allow her, she says, an instinctive response to landscape, without high performance expectations or the time constraints of production. The invisible moment of anxiety, fear, or melancholy, appears, as if by itself, like an excess.
Work dating back 40 years, including woodcuts, drawings and paintings are in collections around the world. Since 2016 she has been a represented artist of BBA Gallery, Berlin.