Book launch dream comes true for our young artist

Hayley Buxton, an artist with autism supported by Banwell Pottery, has written and illustrated her first children’s book.

The dream

Hayley at an event from 2017 selling her paintings.

Banwell Pottery has been supporting prolific artist Hayley, to develop and market her artwork. We’ve worked together for just over two years, on a one-to-one basis, one day a week. She’s gained confidence, new skills, and opportunities to take her work forward. We’re so excited to see her progress. She mainly paints in acrylic and enjoys featuring nature, her own fantasy creatures, and atmospheric backgrounds. Her paintings have been applied to cards, bags, and prints to exhibit and sell, and she’s been growing in success with a small following in her local area.

Hayley is a big fan of Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake and collects books featuring their work. She enjoys watching videos showing how Quentin builds up his illustrations and talks about his work. During one of her days at the Pottery, Hayley and Naomi (who often works with her and is a professional fine artist), came up with the idea to create a children’s book! Hayley had already fancied being a famous artist and now her biggest dream is to be a famous illustrator like Quentin Blake.

The process

An image from Hayley Buxton's new children's book

Hayley was extremely keen to start the new project so work began quickly. As Hayley has a lot of paintings of different characters on show at the Pottery, she decided who was going to be the main character, and then which other characters she wanted to include.

Naomi supported Hayley to come up with a rough idea for the story by asking what problem the main character might have and how the other characters would feature. They then mapped out the whole book and decided what paintings Hayley would need for the illustrations. Hayley quickly completed the paintings and then they started to put the book together with text transcribed from Hayley’s spoken description. They made a mock version and everyone got very excited!

The story

A perfect friend for Jim, Hayley Buxton's childrens book launching soon.

Hayley picked a bright blue deer for her main character and he was named Jim – the friendly deer. However, Jim is lonely and wants to find a friend. He meets a selection of Hayley’s other fantasy creatures throughout his day in the forest.

The story is fresh and insightful, featuring trials that we all might encounter when looking for friends but those that may ring especially true with other autistic people.

The book is called ‘A Perfect Friend for Jim’ and is a 28-page picture book featuring Hayley’s outstanding, atmospheric paintings, with just one sentence of text per page to help the story along.

We believe in helping show true diversity and supporting voices from those who often aren’t in the limelight to tell their stories and show their skills. We believe this book is an important and vital step in the right direction and we hope to spread the word far and wide.

The funding

An image from Hayley Buxton's new children's book

Banwell Pottery is a Brandon Trust social enterprise and this can provide some excellent opportunities for those we support. Brandon Trust’s Dream Fund offers financial help to fulfil dreams and ambitions which simply would not be possible otherwise.

For Hayley’s dream to come true, the book needed to be professionally printed, and launched with a big party. With support, Hayley applied to the Dream Fund and she was ecstatic when she received full funding for the project! It means that Hayley can order a large quantity of books, prints of the illustrations, and cards to sell as well as having a proper launch event. The money she makes from book sales will be used to fund her future projects and dreams.

The big launch

Hayley Buxton's book launch and Art exhibition in Weston, July 2018.

Hayley Buxton, Banwell Pottery, and Brandon Trust, would love to invite you to the big book launch, where you can purchase one of the books fresh off the press!

Date: Thursday, 19 July

Time: 5-7pm

Venue: Learning Space, Weston Museum, Burlington St, Weston-super-Mare BS23 1PR

What to expect: An art exhibition of works included in the book, book signing, book merchandise, nibbles, and soft drinks.

Future events: Hayley will also be signing books at Brandon Trust’s charity shop on Whiteladies Road in Bristol, on Saturday, 28 July, from 4-6pm. She might also be visiting some local schools, so watch this space for upcoming events.

More information

If you have any questions, you can contact Hayley via

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