Drawings by celebrated Yorkshire writer to be displayed for the first time

David Storey
David Storey

A different side to the creative mind of Wakefield-born playwright and author David Storey will go on display at the Hepworth gallery this month.

More than 400 pieces of art by the former pupil of Lucian Freud will be exhibited for the first time, as well as books, archive theatre posters and photographs relating to his most celebrated works such as This Sporting Life and In Celebration.

One of the works to be exhibited.

One of the works to be exhibited.

Storey’s interest in visual art can be traced back to his childhood. Following his studies at Wakefield School of Art he won a scholarship at the prestigious Slade School of Fine Art in London to study as an artist and there met British painter Stanley Spencer, sculptor Henry Moore and was taught life drawing by Lucien Freud.

He continued his interest in visual arts during his literary career, penning sketches for cast members and friends.

Storey said: “The writing led to the drawings from a particular pen. As in my novels and plays, the words were trying to express themselves - a form of mysticism, in the drawings too.”

The main focus of the exhibition will be a series of drawings comprising of hundreds of images drawn daily by Storey over a six-year period from 2006 to 2012.

One of the works to be exhibited.

One of the works to be exhibited.

Storey’s eldest daughter, Helen Storey, said: “The tapping of type writer keys was the sound track of our childhood, it was years before I appreciated Dad’s ability to describe and reveal the human condition with such profundity.

“His words and images have always shocked and enlightened me – it feels right that they come back home to the Hepworth at this time in his extraordinary life.”

Born and brought up in 1930’s Wakefield as the son of a mineworker, Storey went to Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, then Wakefield School of Art before relocating to London to study at the Slade School of Fine Art.

Before turning to writing, Storey had various jobs, ranging from farm labourer and showground tent-erector to professional rugby league player for Leeds.

These experiences all fed into his creative work, notably the novel which made his name This Sporting Life (1960).

His youngest daughter Kate Storey said: “Dad has painted and drawn intermittently throughout his life, sometimes including this work in posters and screens for his plays. We grew up among canvases depicting organic forms magically transformed into patterns and intricacies that, even as a little girl, drew me in.

“The works here have in Dad’s words ‘drawn themselves’, each curiously linked to the next in a natural evolution of pattern and form, which somehow connects you to their making.

“The Hepworth is a natural home for this new work, which possess all the intensity and honesty of Dad’s writing.”

A Tender Tumult: The Art of David Storey will open from June 11 to October 5.