Model Farm for National Centre for Children’s Books

A commission I undertook for the ‘National Centre for Children’s Books’, also known as ‘Seven Stories’. They are located in Newcastle upon Tyne and if you are ever in that area please make time to visit this wonderful place. (if you would like more information on them, visit there website, a must for everyone from 1 to 110 years of age).

Back to the commission, they were preparing to put on an exhibition of the books of author ‘Kim Lewis’. Kim writes and illustrates children’s stories based on her own experiences of her life with her husband and two children living and working on a Northumberland hill farm near Bellingham in the North Tyne Valley.

They approached me to build two model farms after one of their staff had purchased one of my standard toy farms for their own children to play with. The two models were identical to each other, save for slight variations in the paintwork as they were hand painted. One was going into the exhibition, called (‘Over the Hills and Far Away’), and the other one was taken around schools, village halls and libraries on a road tour to encourage children to read.

What they wanted was a model farm based on her stories and they put me in touch with Kim who sent me a print of one of her illustrations featured on the inside covers of her book ‘Little Calf’. This was to give me an idea of what the model should look like. I arranged to visit the farm so that I could take some photographs of all the farm buildings and the farm house and cottage.

So on a grey, cold and rainy January day in 2003, I trudged around in my wellie snapping away at all the buildings to give me a set of photographs with which to work from. (Believe me if you want to get the feel of life on a hill farm, go to one on a day like I did and you will see how hard a life it is).
Below are a few of the many photos I took and then you can compare them to the images I took of the actual model. You will see how important it is to do the groundwork if you want to produce a realistic model.

For more information about Kim Lewis and her books, visit