Author and illustrator draws inspiration from Northumberland for new exhibition

An art exhibition celebrating the work of a Northumberland-based author and illustrator has gone on display in the county.

‘Over the Hills – Tales from a Northumbrian Farm’ at Bellingham Heritage Centre, features the original children’s book artwork of Kim Lewis and is now up and running.

Much of Kim’s work depicts scenic Northumberland landscapes and it is hoped the exhibition will help entice young people and families to explore Northumberland National Park.

Mother-of-two Kim has written and illustrated over 20 picture-books for children, which have been translated into several languages and sold worldwide. In this exhibition, her original artwork, storyboards, photographs, sketchbooks and objects show how Kim turned her family’s farm, along with the animals, people and places she knows so well into the stories and pictures that we love.

Kim, who was born in Canada but later moved to a hill farm in Northumberland National Park, said: “I will never tire of drawing rural life in such a beautiful northern place.”

The exhibition, which runs until Sunday 1st November, is supported by The Sill: National Landscape Discovery Centre, thanks to support from Arts Council England through its National Lottery funded Grants for the arts programme. Through this, it ties into the initiative’s aims to inspire people of all ages, to experience arts and culture in the natural world, across the National Park. When it opens in 2017, The Sill will also be home to a large exhibition space which will form part of its vast arts and culture activity programme.

Mandy Roberts, Engagement Officer at Northumberland National Park Authority, said: “Kim’s artwork perfectly captures the true beauty of Northumberland and it’s fantastic to know that so many young people have been able to enjoy these landscapes through her books.”

Andrew Miller, Head of Programmes and Conservation at Northumberland National Park Authority, said: “We’re so pleased to be supporting her exhibition in the National Park and we hope that it inspires children and adults alike to discover the stunning locations on offer in and around the National Park. When in operation, The Sill will be a hub of arts and culture and we hope to be able to host similar events that celebrate the creativity of other artists like Kim.”

Máire West, Trustee in charge of exhibitions at the Heritage Centre in Bellingham said: “We are all great fans of Kim's books and delighted to offer our exhibition area for this very special display of Kim's original artwork. Our Heritage Centre is very popular with families, so children of all ages who visit us will be able to share in the magical kingdoms created by Kim and inspired by our wonderful Northumberland countryside. We are also very pleased to co-operate with the NNPA and The Sill project for this exciting exhibition.”

Kim currently lives in Northumberland National Park, and works out of her studio in Horsley.

She began her career as a printmaker but ventured into storytelling after encouragement from an illustrator friend. This led her 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 publishers 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 recognise their lives and for city children to be able to walk into a country life for themselves.

She illustrated each of her books using pencil crayon and pastel, describing visually what was around her in rural Northumberland.

‘Over the Hills – Tales from a Northumbrian Farm’ is running at Bellingham Heritage Centre between Sunday 20th September until Sunday 1st November. For further details, visit

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