Women who get s…t done: Bernie Yates

Mention Bernie Yate’s name to anyone who’s been to Central St Martins in the last 27 years and they will invairably exclaim, “oh I love Bernie”!  Loud, enthusiastic and always one to stand out in crowd due to her love of pattern and colour, I first met Bernie in the playground 16 years ago when our kids started reception. Over the years our friendship has grown and we have worked on projects together, as well as spending several magical summer holidays camping in Suffolk, with a whole bunch of children and several gallons of wine.

Bernie is not only fun to be with, she is a true creative and has an amazing ability to get on with anyone from any walk of life. Since graduating in the 80s, she launched her own label, before going on to inspire a new generation of creatives at Central Saint Martins, as a tutor since 1989, and for the last ten years as an Outreach Practitioner.

Bringing up her four children as a single mother in Hackney, Bernie became interested in how art and design were being taught in schools and wanted to understand if young people from disadvantaged backgrounds had proper access to the creative industries. Through developing a series of programmes with local community organisations, youth centres, women’s groups, young mums, refugee and migrant groups and schools, she ensures young people are given an insight into the variety of opportunities available to them, and are given practical help to make sure further education is accessible. Over the years her message has remained the same: regardless of your culture, background or social class, the arts are for all.

Bernie is a power house of creativity and boundless energy and whenever I feel overwhelmed by work and life, I think of her. Truly inspirational, she is relentlessly positive and incredibly hard working and has brought her lovely children up to be the same. She is truly a women who gets s…t done.




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