We were delighted to welcome illustrator, author and storyteller James Mayhew back to Manchester for a very special schools project in Spring 2017. James, perhaps most famous for his Ella Bella Ballerina books, has an extraordinary knack for bringing music to life through storytelling and painting.

As part of Chetham’s Outreach programmes, we invited 3 Greater Manchester schools to host James’s amazing all-day art workshops based on Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons and the sonnets he wrote to accompany them. James visited each school, demonstrating his own painting-to-music before explaining how the children would work together to create their own supersize artworks.

Small groups of children took turns to bring loosely sketched horizons and landmarks to life, filling them in with colour and detail as they listened to Vivaldi’s inspirational pieces. In all, over 150 children listened, worked and painted together to illustrate classical musical narratives.

We collected the murals from our partner schools to create stunning displays for the opening of the new Stoller Hall in April 2017, before returning them to schools as a permanent reminder of their experience and effort:

  • It has been fantastic today. The children learned so much and enjoyed the day.
  • Please give our thanks to James for his amazing work. Thank you for organising this.
  • It was a fantastic experience which we thoroughly enjoyed
  • The children had a wonderful time – our arts assistant said it was so lovely to see how the work progressed.

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