Author James Mayhew set to inspire

Thurrock Gazette: James Mayhew James Mayhew

THERE’S perhaps no author more perfectly suited to inspiring children to pick up a book than James Mayhew.

And for him, there’s no better setting for such a festival than the High House Production Park.

That’s where he will be on Saturday as part of a “Pop Up” festival that sees authors and artists seek to fire young people’s imaginations.

James, who penned the words and illustrations to award winning books Katie’s Picture Show, Ella Bella the Ballerina and Miranda the Explorer, to name but a few, studied set design in his formative years as an artist.

So he is looking forward to being at Thurrock’s new hub of art and culture - home to the Royal Opera House’s world class set design workshop - spreading the word to both children and parents that books and art are fascinating.

“It’s going to be a great experience being at the High House Production Park. I hope to have a bit of time to look around.”

But it’s likely to be a busy day for James. He is one of half a dozen authors, each with their own section at the Pop Up Festival, which aims to bring storytelling to life.

His corner does just that, encouraging children to get creative while also trying to convince parents that there literacy and art offers huge benefits to children.

The Lincolnshire-born illustrator said: “It’s all about encouraging people to be creative. Sometimes adults think art is too high brow, but it’s not. It’s about making your own mind up, looking at a painting and trying to work out ‘what could be going on in this’.

“[In my section] we’re going to have several tables laid out, there will be a chance to create images and we will also have big paintings on the floor that can be contributed to using paintings.”

Taking inspiration from his best selling series of books Katie’s Picture Show - which were inspired from his own childhood - about a girl who explores famous paintings by climbing inside them, youngsters will be able to fill the Mona Lisa with their own faces and have photos taken.

But James’ corner will be one of many at the free festival.

“Each author at the festival will do things in a different way. But my approach is to use imagery to help children create stories. Visual literacy is very important. A lot of children learn visually. I found it hard to read and write at school but pictures were the thing that got me excited about books. You can create stories out of pictures and fill in the words later.”

The free Pop Up Festival will be at the High House Production Park on Saturday, May 3 from 12pm to 6pm.

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