The chances are you’ll have seen his work but not realised it was created right on your doorstep in Four Oaks. Jenny Amphlett meets prolific artist John Bate.
Most artists have their own signature style and techniques be it portrait photography, landscape painting or perhaps ceramics. John Bate, however, is a master of many mediums.
A former interior designer, John paints, sculpts and creates intricate wooden objet d’art – with his creations adorming private homes, hotels, restaurants and other businesses around the world.
His work is all created at home in Four Oaks, where he works on commissions as well as his own flights of fancy.
“I did a degree in design and then did my national service, as one did in those days,” says John. “Then I started my career as a designer working with graphics and products. I gravitated towards interior design.”
John worked in Amsterdam then for a furniture company back in the UK before taking a role with Ind Coope Hotels in Burton-on-Trent. He then became the staff interior designer for a Burton-based construction company before co-founding an interior design business.
Throughout all of those different interior design roles John often found himself creating artwork to suit the rooms he was working on.
Trained to meet exacting client briefs for room design, he became adept at ensuring his own art followed suit.
“Art has always been a by-product of design for me,” says John. “In my very early days, when I joined Ind Coope, I offered my artwork services to the business. It was cheaper for the company to get art from me rather than go into the marketplace and buy it.
“Ever since then I’ve been making art for myself, for colleagues and for commercial clients. It’s never really stopped.”
When John retired from interior design he wasn’t ready to retire from his art. “It’s something that I really enjoy and I get a lot of benefit from it.”
After starting out with painting John found himself making abstract sculptures with metal, wood and glass which then developed into wooden box making.
The boxes in particular have become a labour of love, with each taking several months to complete.
“I enjoy doing it, it occupies me. Every single box is different and serves a different purpose. I have two children and they tend to benefit from my box making.
“To me art isn’t just drawing pretty thatched cottages by a babbling brook with snow on it, although of course I can create that if required. My scope ranges from full blown abstracts to traditional work.
“A gallery once asked me why I have all these different styles and said that an artist should be known for the work they do. But my response to that is that it reflects my design background and different styles give me different outlets.”
The broad range of art reflects John’s broad range of interior design projects.
“One minute I would be involved with a pub company and then it would be hotels. In the later years, when I was in private practice, I worked on health and fitness centres, restaurants, offices and corporate function rooms. The whole gambit of interior design.”
One of the highlights of John’s career was working on the 16th Century Lincoln’s Inn in London, which houses one of the world’s most prestigious professional bodies of judges and barristers.
“I designed furniture, lighting, graphics and had a bespoke fabric design created. It was a package of joy. Then the next day I was working on a brand new office with stainless steel.”
John’s clients have included Embassy Hotels, Pinnacle Health and Fitness Clubs, Jaguar Landrover, pub and restaurant groups, numerous UK galleries and international art publishers. He has also featured in a number of solo and group exhibitions.
John takes his inspiration from many sources. “I am particularly akin to texture, natural patterns and intricacies such as the strata of stones and rocks. I use various materials in some of my work including paint, plaster, metal and rock.
“I love the different textures and layers they can create to give a 3D effect of high light and shadow within the art composition.
“I also use metallic foils and geometric construction graphics for semi and full abstracts.
“For more traditional work I use softer paint to stimulate atmospheric mist and the light and dark colours of nature during all times of the day and seasons.”
The chances are that J’AIME readers will have seen John’s work but won’t have realised it was created right on their doorstep in Four Oaks.
They can rest assured that John has no intention of stopping his work any time soon.
“I don’t need the money but it’s very nice when I sell something for money,” he says. “Art isn’t my living, it’s my interest. Some people love gardening, but it feels like a chore for me. It’s all about art for me.
“Art has always played a special part in my life. To me art is a statement of vision. I am passionate about colour, light, shadow and texture, all to evoke that statement into a vibrant intrigue of drama or peace and tranquility, captivating a moment in time.
“The real buzz in creating is when a client tells me how much they love the work I have just produced for them, that buzz to me is worth a million bucks.”
John’s paintings and sculptures tend to range in price from around £250 to £1,500. To find out more about John’s work visit www.johnbate.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org, visit johnbate.art.gallery on Instagram or call 0121 308 1196 or 07885 477333.