James Mayhew Illustrated Concerts

In 2013 I had the good fortune to meet James Mayhew, a talented illustrator, painter and performer. Best known for his book Katie’s Picture Show, published in 1989. James has also produced Ella Ballerina and many other well loved books. More recently James has been working on Gaspard the Fox written by BBC broadcaster Zeb Soanes.

A little about the James Mayhew Illustrated Concerts

In more recent years James has been touring the UK, and internationally, creating a wonderful experience for audiences. He combines painting with music in a fantastic visual and audio feast for audiences. The basic premise is storytelling and painting set to the music of either an orchestra, ensemble or band (although there are many variations on this theme). As James paints in time to the music, the image of his canvas is projected onto a large screen, often above the orchestra, for all of the audience to see.

This is where we come in

Having had the good fortune to meet James Mayhew at Bishop’s Stortford College, an independent co-educational day and boarding school for ages 4-18. We provide video services for the school and were commissioned to provide the video feed to the projector for a forthcoming concert featuring James. At the time I had no idea of the significance of this initial meeting with James.

Fast forward to the event itself, familiar with the idea of providing a video feed to a projector (we do this for Open Mic UK, TeenStar and Britain Does Variety) we quickly got to work setting up our camera and tripod, setting up some additional lighting for the canvas, and connecting up and testing the video feed to the projector positioned above the orchestra.

Arriving early is key…

For this kind of concert with such a big reliance on technology I am always conscious that there are so many things that could go wrong. For this reason, and for the reassurance of James M, I always arrive at least 4 hours prior to the start of any illustrated concert. This allows me time to setup and test the video feed, iron out any technical issues with the venue and help advise on the setting of the lighting for the best results. I have learned over the years the importance of having a back-up camera, extra spare cables, an extra set of my own lights and plenty of extension leads, gaffer tape and rubber safety matting!. You never know what might arise!

Getting to know James

Having met James at my first experience of his concerts in 2013 I was impressed by the concept and could see how much the audience had enjoyed the experience. It seemed like a wonderful thing to have been involved in. James was incredibly patient and humble and was a pleasure to spend the evening with.

Unbeknown to me I had clearly made a good impression on James too….

Some months later an email came through from an orchestra in London, asking for some recommendations on what they would need in terms of equipment, or who they would need to hire, to allow them to put on an illustrated concert with James Mayhew. I dutifully helped the orchestra as best I could, telling them exactly what I thought would be the minimum specification for a camera, tripod, backup lighting and the various cables they might need to connect to their projector system. I advised them where they could hire the equipment if they wished to do it themselves, and also gave them an option for hiring a member of our team (usually myself because I really enjoy the concerts) along with a  cost for doing so.

The orchestra decided to book me to attend and provide the video feed for their concert. When I asked about the enquiry, they said I had been highly recommended by James as the ‘expert on the video aspects of the concerts’….. gulp!, no pressure there then!.

james mayhew illustrated concerts

Fast forward to today

Fast forward 5 years and I am pleased to say myself and my team have gone on to work alongside James, and in recent years Antonio, on tens of dozens of concerts throughout the UK. Over the years we have refined the concerts through working together and suggesting subtle changes to make the experience even better for the audience and as stress free as possible for the organiser.

Such innovations have included changing the canvas from a 4:3 ratio to 16:9 to fit the widescreen camera feed and widescreen video feeds now common in venues. With our backup camera, plug in power, safety cable protectors and backup lighting (because you never do know!) I hope that I provide peace of mind to the organiser and to James.

How to find out more

If you are considering putting on an illustrated concert featuring James Mayhew the first step is to contact James to check his availability and obtain a quote. Contact James M here

If you have booked an illustrated concert with James Mayhew and would like to enquire about the technical aspects of the concerts, from video feeds to projector hire and sound and lighting engineers, then please feel free to contact us. We can provide advice on all aspects of the concerts, from an informal conversation on the phone to offer our expertise, to providing a quote for providing some of the elements required to produce the concert successfully.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this blog. For more on my company, HNE Media Services Limited, please call 01279 883 270, email info@hnemedia.co.uk or visit our website

About the author



My names is James, I am the Director of HNE Media Services Limited. We are a video production and video training company based in Hertfordshire. With over 14 years experience we are an established and trusted video production company operating throughout the UK. I have a passion for people and really value the relationships I build with the fantastic people I get to work with. Covering anything from a school production to a full blown national grand final at the 02, we can turn our hand to projects large and small. For more help and advice please contact us, we look forward to hearing from you.