Me and my friend Anthony Saint James (a gentleman of lenses as opposed to pens) were looking around the Society of Illustrators last week (I was checking out the Members' Gallery as I'm having a show there next year) when we saw that Barron Storey's 'Life After Black' exhibition was being put up in the main gallery downstairs.
With the show just about ready to open, Mr Storey himself was there, pasting pieces into little books and directing. But what we didn't know was that this was a show absolutely stuffed full to the gills with sketchbooks - and only sketchbooks - of all sizes, packed with minute drawings, pen and ink, notes, faces, type, motorbikes, trees...I've never seen anything like them in my life. And d'you know what? You could TOUCH. As it dawned on us the purpose of this show was To Touch (or rather to rifle excitedly through page after page) there was an almost audible sigh of relief so big that we needed to lie down for a minute.
They are, in the authentic sense of the word, awesome; just writhing with thoughts and humming brain activity. You do get the feeling that if he didn't do these, he would just grind to a halt. I had the pleasure of talking to him briefly and got the impression of a straightforward, kind, passionate man with pencils where fingers should be, dreaming in pictures and paper.
If you get the chance to go, you must. His work reminded me that sketchbooks are not just for Christmas, they're for life