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Kim Lewis

As a child

Kim Lewis grew up in a sleepy suburb of the city of Montreal, in Canada. As a child, she always wished she’d been brought up on a farm. She remembers her mother’s big garden, going to get ice creams from the corner store with her granpa, watching her granma wrap Christmas presents in a meticulous and beautiful way, and hearing her father clacking away at the keys of his typewriter in the basement. Her favourite things, from an early age, were drawing and making things. She still remembers her mother despairing over the constant request for materials, and the subsequent art mess everywhere. Until high school, she played with a large gang of children who used to rove from one garden to next on her street, mostly pretending to be wild horses. After that, Kim says, she became an embarrassing swot.

As an adult

Kim did a Fine Art degree in Montreal, and then came to Hornsey College of Art in London to do postgraduate printmaking. She says she met some British people at university in Montreal, and liked them so much that she wanted to come to the country where there were lots more of them. From the minute she arrived in England, Kim says she felt completely at home. After Kim met her late husband, Flea, at art school, they moved to Northumberland, to live and work on a hill farm. Something about the landscape reminded her of home. Flea and Kim brought up their two children on the farm, along with the 650 blackface ewes, 100 suckler cows, twelve hens, six border collies, and two cats. She says she will never leave, or cease to love the countryside in Northumberland.

As an artist

Kim began her artistic career as a printmaker, working especially in the area of stone lithography. Her work has always been detailed – she prefers to work from the observation of life, rather than from her imagination (which, says Kim, is never as amazing). Her favourite subject matter is found in the quiet corners of the farm, where machinery and animals rest, woolsacks are stacked, and the barns are weathered to a hundred years’ sort 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 farm books for Walker Books, and Kim has been making picture books about her beloved countryside ever since.

Things you didn't know about Kim Lewis

  1. Her hair is very curly and she can’t do anything with it.
  2. One of her favourite things is walking, first thing in the morning, with her border collie, Fen.
  3. She spends a lot of time standing on the sidelines, watching her big son play rugby.
  4. She is always changing her garden around, which makes the plants dizzy.
  5. She tells only three jokes a year, which make people laugh, as they are so surprised.
  6. She loves having fresh lilies in the house, sunshine coming into the big kitchen with its wooden floor, and preparing food for her family.
  7. Her favourite art materials are coloured pencils, of which she has over one hundred. Buying new ones is like going into a sweet shop.
  8. Her favourite room is the studio, where she can look out onto the hills and listen to the radio all day long while drawing.
  9. She takes three years to make a patchwork quilt, and one year to make a picture book.
  10. She loves the smell of her daughter’s hair, her husband’s hands and the way Northumberland feels like a secret kingdom.

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