In the early nineteen sixties, Marie Yates was known as an abstractionist painter, from within the context of St.Ives Cornwall where she had a painting studio. She then moved to London to study for a Degree in Fine Art hoping to explore the critical discourses of the art world at the time and to this end she enrolled at Hornsey College of Art in the September of 1968.

She rejected the American Modernist aesthetic ideals and its notions of the "purely visual": the Platonic tradition that images have the capacity to reveal mystic truths enshrined in things. In 1969 the Italian Art Povera movement proved of interest,exploring the context of art-making itself, and the space of the gallery, as well as the world beyond the gallery, reflecting on the relationship between art and life. Essentially, these discourses placed the viewer at the centre of a discussion about experience and meaning.

Yates took part in discussions about the role of art within society and through using very temporary minimalist installation works involving soft fabric forms, neon light and wind/air, in which the minimalist photographic documentation was often the work itself, she had some success in posing questions, though not without critical detractors. However, the inequalities in art often remained an unspoken problem.

During this time also she was strongly influenced by the writings of Lucy R. Lippard, New York critic and writer, and in the early works of Yoko Ono and the beginnings of Conceptual Art, particularly the exhibition "When Attitudes Become Form"in 1969 and the work of Burgin, Kosuth, LeWitt, Weiner, Eva Hesse, Art-Language and John Latham, noting the lack of women represented. She became involved with the Artist Placement Group and exhibited in their presentation INNO 70 at the Hayward Gallery in 1971, becoming the only woman operating as an artist in that group, and was considered and interviewed for APG Placements in 1974/5.

She graduated from Hornsey in 1971, with the landscape works: "The Field Workings". These were conceptual slide projections, audio and sculptural installations employing image and text, which continued to question the role of the artist, and the nature of "the artwork". By 1977 she had turned to themes of culture and political ideology, still using landscape as a focus in questioning the role of language in Art and the relationships of images and texts and the significance of the photograph within society. She also become convinced that as an artist, her works had to become aimed towards social change.

She confronted "the display and consumption of landscape" by juxtaposing beautiful views of rural England with simple binary oppositions - a confusion of predictable romanticism and objectification devices in order to expose the codes at work.

At about this time (1978), she became extremely interested in the works of Mary Kelly, whom she had met at a conference at University College and was mentored by her over time - also meeting Laura Mulvey at the Filmakers Coop proved a turning point, and as a direct result she entered wholeheartedly into the womens movement in art, combined with debates on the role of the media in society.

In 1979 Yates responded to an invitation from Lucy R. Lippard (who was curating Yates' previous landscape works in New York and Chicago), to take part in a new exhibition titled ISSUE: Social Strategies by Women Artists at the Institute of Contemporary Art in London in 1980. Yates constructed a completely new and different project from previously, especially for the show. It was entitled "Image/woman/text" (after Roland Barthes), which explored social preconceptions about photographic images of women, the way those preconceptions are made, and the meanings constructed accordingly.

Issue was an international exhibition curated by Lucy R. Lippard. It concentrated on women artists whose work dealt with specific social and political issues which they are concerned to bring to the broadest possible public, Their art dealt with social concerns which include health, ecology, unemployment, war, alienation, schooling, violence against women and propaganda. They tended to share a general strategy in the application of the feminist credo 'the personal is political' to issues often considered to be outside 'the woman's domain.'

Issue was conceived by Lucy R, Lippard with May Stevens and Margaret Harrison, and was the first international exhibition that brought together these concerns in women's work.

Following on from this came Yates' long-term installation project on the power of the image in the construction of identification and sexuality: "The Missing Woman 1982/3/4", and then later, a major project dealing with desire and separation in the process of a daughter mourning a mother: "The Only Woman 1985", negotiating the interface between the social and the psychic.

Between 1979 and the present many works have been constructed following on from the initial credo of 'the personal is political'. More recently, from a position of exile, using video, installation, image and text, she has turned to the question of exile, refuge and belonging, and of the impossibility of returning home, all of which are now the conditions for so many. The project is entitled "On Not Going Home", shown at Arnolfini in 2014, part of which was a circulated poster in 2017 regarding the plight of refugees in the English Channel, and the Aegean Sea.

In 2017 and 2018 she presented two new projected works for exhibition- An unworking 2017 and The Missing Woman (Series 2) 2018,.

Works 1962-2022