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Author and playwright David Storey exhibits previously unseen artworks at the Hepworth Wakefield
Storey’s interest in visual art can be traced back to his childhood.

WAKEFIELD.- This summer The Hepworth Wakefield celebrates the art of one of the country’s greatest living novelists and playwrights David Storey.

From 11 June until 5 October, A Tender Tumult: The Art of David Storey showcases for the very first time more than 400 small-scale works by the Wakefield-born writer.

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.

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

On display are drawings made during an intense late life period of creativity, a small selection of earlier works produced in the 1980s, as well as his books, archive posters of his theatre productions and films, and personal photographs.

The central focus of the exhibition is a series of drawings comprising hundreds of images drawn daily by Storey over a six-year period (2006-2012). Emerging from his written notebooks, the drawings of shifting forms, patterns, and colours accumulate into a body of work, that like his literary characters explore the dark and brooding elements of human psyche.

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”.

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.

Born and brought up in 1930’s Wakefield and unique among his generation of writers, David Storey's achievements are divided equally between his work as a novelist and as a playwright.

The son of a mineworker, he 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).

Actor, Brian Cox said: “Working on David's semi-biographical masterwork In Celebration was the formative experience of my dramatic working life. The inspirational combination of David and Lindsay Anderson created a foundation to my acting that is still with me almost 50 years later.”

He added: “I always think of David as the seminal pastoral-poetic playwright of the post war period. The question of working class ambition and its pitfalls at the expense of creative fortitude, the erosion of the working conditions of man and his relationship to his physical environment - ideas which were well ahead of their time. Prophetic threads that have become the fabric of our so called modern materialistic society. “

Much acclaimed for both his plays and his novels; This Sporting Life won the Macmillan Fiction Prize in 1960, Flight into Camden won the John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Prize in 1961 and the Somerset Maugham Award 1963. Pasmore won the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize in 1973 and Saville won the Booker Prize for Fiction in 1976.

Storey’s plays, mostly written in two or three days, include The Restoration of Arnold Middleton (1967), which won the Evening Standard Award for Most Promising Playwright; The Contractor (1969), Home (1970) and The Changing Room (1972), all of which won the New York Critics Best Play of the Year Award; In Celebration (1969), which was adapted as a film in 1974 starring Alan Bates; Life Class (1975); and The Farm. In 2007 Hollywood actor Orlando Bloom made his stage debut in a new production of Storey’s northern family drama, In Celebration. Home had a very-well received revival in Paris in 2015 at le Theatre L'Oeuvre, Paris.

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