Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Artist With the Very Big Heart

Earlier this week I used an illustration by James Mayhew for my post, "Too Much Information". I loved its dreamlike quality, which I believed to be the perfect match for my subject: the imagery that Emma enjoyed while playing the music of Prince Igor. Since I was writing about her experience I wanted her approval of the picture. I showed it to her, and she loved it too. I was so glad. What I wanted to express in my writing would not have been as clear without this picture. And it helped me give something back to Emma. She went back to the Prince Igor theme again this week. I know she probably won't see what she used to, but I hope that the beautiful painting will work as a catalyst from which new imagery may grow.

Today I received the most wonderful comment from Mr. Mayhew which kindled in me a great affection for this generous soul. I want to share it with you:

Hi, I found your blog because I saw my illustration online. It;'s an older piece so I was slightly intrigued. I loved your post - it is so true. Very often movies destroy books and the populisation of classical music is heartbreaking. How many kids know the galop from the William Tell overture from ads or TV shows or Movies? Ditto Peer Gynt, 1812 etc etc. Every year I do a concert for children, in the UK, where I tell the ORIGINAL stories and then illustrate them while the orchestra plays the music. I think it's helpful to have something to go on with music, but agree the imagination has to have room to enjoy. I've posted about all of this on my blogs... do have a look if you have time! And thanks for choosing my picture!

I could not believe that he thanked me for choosing his picture when he received nothing in return. Instead, I am the one who is so in his debt! Tears rushed to my eyes. He provided me a link to his blog called Katie's Picture Show. My affection grew further still when I read his bio:

Born in Stamford, Lincolnshire in 1964, James Mayhew grew up in the Dickensian village of Blundeston in Suffolk. After completing a Foundation Course at Lowestoft College, he studied illustration at Maidstone College of Art, graduating in 1987 with First Class honours. His first book for children was Katie's Pictures Show, (Orchard Books 1989) establishing the long running series about a child's adventures in an art gallery. Many of his books have a cultural agenda and James is passionate about introducing children to art, music, opera, ballet and traditional tales.

He has published over 60 books, and illustrated and written for many other colleagues including Philippa Pearce, Martin Waddell and Jackie Morris.

As a storyteller he has devised and performed a series of sell-out concerts for children with the de Havilland Philharmonic Orchestra, and has participated in prom performances at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

He has also created designs and illustrations for the Kirov Mariinsky Opera of St Petersburg and in 1994 won the New York Times award for one of the ten best illustrated books of the year (The Boy and The Cloth of Dreams).

He has made regular appearances at the National Galleries in Edinburgh and London and visits many schools, and arts and literary festivals.

James is a member of the Art Worker's Guild and the Society of Authors.

Here is a link to Mr. Mayhew's Amazon page.

With Gratitude

I just ordered two of Mr. Mayhew's books from Amazon. I'm hoping I'll be generous enough to donate them to my local library. If I find that I can't part with them, I will enjoy them myself and then pack them away with all the other beautiful children's books that I am saving for my future grandchildren!

I ordered The Kingfisher Book of Tales from Russia in a library edition. That leaves one in stock for some lucky person.

And I ordered a hardback copy of Ella Bella Ballerina and Cinderella.


james said...

Such kind works... thank you!

Wendy Haught said...

You are most welcome. The kind words are well deserved.