The Tin She's been finding out more about the inspiration behind author Margaret Skea's historical fiction.

She grew up in Northern Ireland at the height of the troubles, where violence was a daily part of life, but Margaret couldn't write about that conflict because it was too close and too personal.

Instead her first novel centred on a Scottish clan feud that ran for 400 years. She says that was in a way the same situation, hundreds of years removed

Now, living in the Scottish Borders, Margaret is well-known for her historical fictional writing, which concentrates on violent periods in Scottish history.

She's produced 5 novels and a collection of award-winning short stories.

In 2020 she was short-listed for the Book Brunch prize and was runner up of the Historical Novel Society Award.

See more about Margaret and her work at

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Ruby, who's 15 and still at school, set up Murray Prints as a project during lockdown in 2020. Now her sea-inspired paintings are helping to raise funds for The Wave Project, a national charity which helps vulnerable children and young people improve their health and well-being through surfing and mentoring.

Ruby, from Whitley Bay on North Tyneside, donates 25% from the sale of her art to the Project, which has 12 centres across the UK, including one at Tynemouth.

Even while studying for her GCSE's, Ruby carried on fund-raising and also does volunteer work for a local homeless charity.

Helped by her mum Nicola, who is a regular sea swimmer, they came up with the slogan "Love you to the Sea and Back" which appears on all her paintings. 

"It's hopefully helped others and provides joy to people in these current circumstances" says Ruby.

She and her work were recently featured in Outdoor Swimmer magazine and  if you'd like to meet Ruby and see more of her work, she'll be at The Tin Shed's Autumn and Christmas fairs at Bamburgh on Oct 17 and Nov 14, 10am-4pm

You can also buy her work at

For more info email


Silk painting is an ancient tradition which was used widely throughout China and other parts of Asia before the invention of paper, two thousand years ago.

This led to the demise of silk painting, which was only kept alive by local artisans. Thankfully in the 1930's their work was spotted at an exhibition in Paris and silk painting underwent a fashion revival.

It's popularity and uses have continued to grow, but who'd have thought this delicate ancient art could be used to decorate everyday household items.

 Textile artist Jean Haste, who's a member of the Guild of Silk Painters, says she's always thinking of new ways to use it.

She fell in love with silk painting because of the intensity of the colour it can produce and the element of surprise. It's a complex process where the artist only has limited control over the end result.

Jean, from Stockton on Tees, says her main range includes silk scarves, jewellery and purses, but she also uses silk to create lamps and lampshades. Recently she has started fusing the silk onto glass bowls and vases and was commissioned to created silk covered perspex screens and glass kitchen splashback. 

She says the main challenge of these large pieces was getting a big enough frame to stretch the silk and making sure it didn't get any air bubbles in it when it was laid out.

Visit Jean in The Tin Shed's Artists Studios at

Or contact her for more info at

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television presenter

Ian is best known as the main anchor of ITV's North East Tonight news programme and before that as a sports' presenter.

What he isn't known for is painting. In fact, until recently even Ian didn't know he had such artistic ability. 

Always interested in art, his wife Tessa gave him a ‘starter set’ of acrylic paints for his birthday at the beginning of 2020.

However it was only during lockdown a couple of months later, that he started following some YouTube beginner tutorials.

When Ian's local pub landlord heard about his new found skills, he challenged him to paint a picture of Sycamore Gap. The painting now has pride of place in the pub at Heddon-on-the-Wall.

Ian now joins regular painting sessions with online groups.

"In these uncertain times I feel I’ve stumbled upon a relaxing & heart-warming way of socialising with kindred spirits across the globe - all of us starting with our own blank canvases."

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Peter Hallam's work tends to stop you in your tracks and ask "who are these colourful characters".

It's fair to say that they are all individuals, each with their own character and story. 

Peter, who's based at Paxton in the Scottish Borders, admits they're often based on real people he's met...but they can take on many forms before he's happy with the final piece.

"People are so interesting and diverse. There's a massive range of characters. Painting people has just developed naturally, and there is never ending scope...every face is different".

This one, Bird Girls Go to Heaven, is his personal favourite.

"It's the depth in the eyes and it has a bird like quality. Growing up looking after birds and animals has influenced my work."

Peter grew up in rural Nottinghamshire with a menagerie of animals, including a crow called Albert.

Peter had a passion for art from a young age and was encouraged to pursue this and attend art school. However he left after just two days and remains largely self-taught.

He's now been a professional artist for more than 20 years and has exhibited throughout the UK and USA, including the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh.

In 2006 he won The Cravens Art Prize for his painting ‘Don’t Feed The Animals’, inspired by Celebrity Big Brother. 

He regularly has sell out shows at the Biscuit Factory in Newcastle and his work is becoming increasingly collectable.

Visit the Peter Hallam Exhibition in our Gallery or visit his website


Artist Peter Podmore's life and work changed dramatically in the early 1990's all thanks to a passing cloud while walking in the Cheviots.  

After leaving art college 17 years earlier he'd always worked in abstract format, but that day he noticed how a valley bathed in sunlight could be suddenly transformed by a cloud.

"It was something I'd noticed before, but it had never made such a strong impression on me," says Peter.  "I suddenly felt the need to investigate more by going out and drawing in the open air."

Peter moved from Newcastle to Westnewton in North Northumberland in 1995, where he still lives and works from a nearby studio.

He is now recognised for his sea and landscape work.

Visit Peter's website to see more:

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Edinburgh artist Wendy Helliwell is as passionate about recycling as she is about her work.

In fact it often IS clothes, pages from glossy magazines and thrown away items in her 3D statement pieces.

It also led to a new project, Lipfill Not Landfill.

Wendy is quick to explain that this is nothing do with cosmestic procedures, but layering recycled clothes to create her sculptural pouts.

Wendy is also well-known for her colourful Quirky Queues, often created from the same issue of a magazine to capture the mood of the time. She says these pieces are a perfect platform to showcase her love of fashion and highlight today's culture of consumerism, excess and waste. Many feature shopping trips, VIP parties, ladies who lunch and designer handbags.

Last year Wendy's sculpture for the Oor Wullie BIG Bucket Trail helped raise over £5,000 for the charity when it was auctioned off.

Aff Yir Rocker paid homage to Scottish music and the importance of recycling. It was created using clothing donated to the charity by some of the country's greatest musicians including Midge Ure, Shirley Manson and Jim Kerr 

It also features performers' signatures such as Lewis Capaldi, seen here.

After being on public display at Waverley Station, Aff Yir Rocker was bought by the owner of the Edinburgh Corn Exchange where it is now displayed.

Wendy's work can be seen in a number of Scottish galleries and she's a regular at art fairs in Edinburgh and the Borders.

Or visit her site at