Kim Lewis grew up in a sleepy suburb of Montreal in Canada, though as a child she always wished she’d been brought up on a farm. From an early age her favourite occupation was drawing and making things and she still remembers her mother despairing over the constant request for materials, with its subsequent art mess in all areas of the house.
Kim did a Fine Art degree in Montreal, then came to Hornsey College of Art in London to do postgraduate printmaking. From the minute she arrived in England, Kim says she felt completely at home. After meeting her husband at art school they moved to Northumberland to live and work on a hill farm, bringing up two children alongside 650 blackface ewes, 100 suckler cows, twelve hens, six border collies and two cats.
Kim began her artistic career as a printmaker, working especially in the area of stone lithography. Her work has always been detailed, drawing from the observation of life rather than her imagination (which, says Kim, is never as amazing). Her favourite subject matter was found in the quiet corners of the farm where machinery and animals rested, woolsacks were stacked, and the barns were weathered to a hundred years’ tone of grey.
Encouraged by an illustrator friend, Kim decided to tell the story of the shepherding year for her son James, who was three at the time. That began a series of country tales for Walker Books and as ideas continued to come from watching her children’s reactions to the small events in the farm’s day to day life, her aim became to record them, both for rural children who could recognize their lives and for city children to be able to ‘walk into’ a country life for themselves. She illustrated each book using pencil crayon and pastel, describing visually what was around her in the wild part of northern England she will never cease to love.
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