TV Antiques Star Returns to TV with a New Show Created  With His Wife

TV Antiques Star Returns to TV with a New Show Created With His Wife

Latest news from Hungry Gap Productions

Flog it!, may be no more – in terms or recommissioning at least. But fans and antique lovers need not fret, for Wiltshire resident and Swindon enthusiast will soon be back on your screens with his new show: Curiosity.

Paul Martin, TV Presenter and antiques expert.

TV antiques expert Paul Martin returns to our screens in a new vintage-themed show, Curiosity.

Curiosity is a competitive format which puts contestants’ knowledge of antiques and collectables to the test. In each episode two teams of two will move from room to room, using their skills, expertise and intuition to take on different tasks and challenges – all against the clock.

Paul and his wife Charlotte dreamed up the initial idea.

Paul, who lives in Wiltshire with Charlotte and their children Dylan and Meredith, said: ‘This show is the culmination of an idea Charlotte and I came up with at home at our kitchen table.’

‘I always loved any kind of treasure hunt,’ Charlotte Martin said. “Then working on various series myself in television, meeting Paul and being immersed in the world of antiques and collectables I began to think about how we could bring an element of a ‘searching’ together with our mutual love of vintage, quirky and social history into one programme. Gradually the idea of Curiosity took shape and it’s been amazing to see it become a reality.

The pair teamed up with Pete Lawrence, the boss of Bristol-based independent company Hungry Gap Productions to develop the format and bring Curiosity to life. 

The programme is set in a series of distinctive rooms including The Den of Antiquity and So Last Century and combines vintage and social history in an entertaining way.

Pete, founder of Hungry Gap Productions said: ‘It’s a fun show and it feels like anything can happen.’

‘Our teams are tasked with finding fakes, spotting links between objects and discovering the fascinating stories behind the kind of trinkets and treasures that cram collectable emporiums and second-hand shops throughout the land,’ Pete said.

‘Paul is a fountain of knowledge and he brings the stories of the objects to life explaining their provenance and unique attributes.’

Paul’s ‘co-presenter’ in the series is a four-legged actor – a Bassett hound named after his own dog: Baxter. 

‘Baxter is my mate and my side kick at home. The programme is a bit quirky like him. He’s a proper character and this is his five minutes of fame – sort of. In real life the specially trained stage dog is actually called Maggie! That’s Curiosity for you!’

Curiosity comes to our screens on Monday April 1 at 2.15pm on BBC One and will run weekdays for three weeks.  

Marilyn Trew Artist

Marilyn Trew Artist

Where many creatives that I speak to have a shared tale of, if not parental antagonism to them pursuing art, then at least apathy and lack of support. But not so for Marilyn Trew artist. For her dad was a creative chap – so it’s in the blood as it were. A sign-writer, for a pastime, Marilyn’s dad cut shapes from linoleum to frame and Marilyn would help him with that.

puffin on rocks

Marilyn Trew Artist on Facebook: The Puffin Shack

Schooldays – Artistic Days

Failing her 11+, aged 13 Marilyn got the chance of a grammar scholarship studying art. Twenty-eight places were available and Marilyn’s painting of Hull fish wives won her one of them. So off to study art she went. She had one English lesson and one maths lesson per week – the rest of her school hours she spent studying all the artistic disciplines. Through all this Marilyn had her parent’s support and encouragement. Marilyn says she had the great good fortune to have parents that only wanted for her to be happy so gave her their blessing.

Marilyn’s Social Media Activities

Swindon Art Venues:
Visual Art Swindon:

Map twigs community gardens

Marilyn’s gorgeous map for Twigs Community gardens

A Rich and Varied Tale and a Life Well-Lived

Marilyn’s back story is so varied that I’ll have to leap forward to her Swindon activities or this post is going to be waaaaay too long as fascinating as it is. Suffice it to say, that Marilyn’s experiences encompass designing flooring for the Armstrong Cork Co and flying high as a stewardess for British Eagle Airlines. In that role, Marilyn flew Brian Epstein (the Beatles’ manager), the London Symphony Orchestra and once threw Acker Bilk off a plane for being drunk in charge of his cabin bag! There’s also been a graphic design business in Spain and HR and counselling training. Not much then eh?

Stepping into Swindon’s Art Scene

Since making a full-time return to art five years ago, Marilyn has been super active in Swindon’s super active art scene.

Asked to start an art group by by Stratton Parish council at Grange leisure centre, the group is now thirty people strong. Marilyn told me how she loves working with this group because it uses so much of her experience. Well – maybe not designing floors. With a grant to get it off the ground, this group is now self-funding.

Savernake Street Hall – Eastcott Community 

Together with fellow artist Ruth Wintle, another super lady, Marilyn runs a further art group at Savernake Street Hall – a great community centre run by a bunch of gorgeous community minded people for whom Marilyn is full of praise. And quite right too. They’re great. Marilyn explains that many people come to the group purely for the companionship. They learn about art, go on trips and they make friends. And that’s what it’s all about.

Marilyn, Ruth and their art group worked on windows for the community hall as part of Eastcott’s wonderful Window Wanderland project.

Mapping Swindon

Being the wonderful community minded individual that she is, a year or so back Marilyn drew the most beautiful map for the Peatmoor Community woodland.

In the image below you see the gorgeous Marilyn, her husband Chris and the map.

Marilyn Trew with her husband Chris and her fabulous Peatmoor map.

I happened to see that map on social media. #Obvs And a bell clanged in my head. ‘Ooh’ I thought, ‘I could ask Marilyn if she’d do a map of the Richard Old Town walk for a project I’m trying to get to!’ She did – and it’s amazing. And since then the whole map painting malarkey has grown like topsy, with maps of the garden at the Richard Jefferies museum, the Twigs garden that you see above and more. I’d really love for her to do one of the railway village conservation area. She has produced one for me to go in Swindon in 50 Buildings – hitting bookshelves near you in a few weeks’ time.

When not running art groups and mapping Swindon she’s busy with her own thing – mostly nature and wildlife.

In the photos you see below there are cards drawn/painted by Marilyn at The Core juice bar in Old Town, the WWI mural she was part of in Haydon Wick, a map of the Richard Jefferies museum garden and the Eastcott windows.

Marilyn is a wonderful person. She’s warm and kind and community minded. And, she not only draws maps for me but she brings me sweeties. So y’know … 😉 Long may she continue mapping Swindon and painting in it.

A love of Art and Design … close to home

A love of Art and Design … close to home

Logo from the Creative Wiltshire website.

This post is by way of sharing a blog on the Creative Wiltshire website.

The blog began life as a series of Facebook posts by Carole Bent, partner in the David Bent Studio. Carole set out, in the lull following Open Studios in September, to use Facebook to celebrate some of Swindon’s artists and to showcase ‘what an artist’s wife and partner bought’.

‘The possibility of exhibiting these with a friend in a similar position was discussed, but time flew by.

In 2018, Carole decided that a positive and accessible way to share the work would be virtually, on Facebook. Her personal and positive approach aimed to brighten up the dark month of November and to help to shine a light on some of the great talent close to home.’

So the lovely blog put together by Creative Wiltshire brings Carole’s posts together with some context about Carole herself.

Some of them I know

Of course I’ve written about some of the artists Carole showcased on this blog – often several times over the years. So what follows is merely a list of quick links to those posts. But DO, DO, DO check out the full blog linked above to read about others that I’ve not covered.

  1. Tim Carroll: Posts about Tim here.
  2. David Bent: Several posts about David here.
  3. Dona Bradley – architectural illustrator
  4. Marilyn Trew – coming to this blog soon!
  5. Sally Taylor and Vicky Silver – Artsite
  6. Simon Webb: Several posts about Simon on this blog. Here’s one of them.
Dona Bradley: Architectural Illustrator

Dona Bradley: Architectural Illustrator

I have long admired Dona’s work. So when she expressed interest in having a feature in this ‘Made in Wiltshire’ section on the blog, thrilled didn’t cover it because I love her iconic Swindon images. #Obvs

 It’s a b*gger that I’m out of wall space – fridge magnets it is then! 

Images from Facebook page
Dona Bradley artist at her drawing board.

Dona at the drawing board. Photo credit: Stephen McGrath


Talk to many creatives of certain generations and you meet a recurring theme: that of parents discouraging their offspring from pursuing their artistic talents and aspirations. And Dona is no exception to this. She told me how, when she hit 40, she realised that the great keyboard of life had a lost chord. And that chord was her creativity, her art. So she set about rediscovering it.

From then until now, Dona’s pursued her art part-time. But January 2019 marks a new, exciting, yet scary era: that of pursuing her work full-time. She’ll be doing lots more live events, getting out and about with her art and meeting people. I think it’s safe to say the lost chord is well and truly found.

Art for Architecture’s Sake

Dona confesses to be being a closet architect. ‘If I had my time again, I’d train to be an architect’, she said. But instead, at the life point she was at when she realised how much she missed being creative, she opted to go to Bristol college and do a course in spatial design. The discipline takes into account the architectural aspects of a building and is much less about pretty colours, soft furnishings and the like.

All of Dona’s artwork now is a happy compromise for her. Specializing in buildings, her work fulfils both her interest in architecture and her desire to create. With Dona’s work, everything is about the building. What she loves is marrying a building’s beauty with the significance it holds for an individual.

The Feel Good Factor

Dona’s clients tell her stories about their experiences of a building or place – so her work helps people to feel good about where they live. Swindon is a great subject for Dona for this reason.

There’s no escaping that Swindon gets more than its share of put downs and knocks – goodness only knows why. Yet, Swindon has some wonderful, iconic buildings and structures that Dona has used in her work to great effect. For a start, my favourite David Murray John Tower has had the Dona Bradley treatment, as has the iconic (albeit neglected) diving platform at Coate Water. Aren’t they both gorgeous?!

The Town Hall with its splendid railings, our lovely Town Garden’s bandstand and Christ Church in Old Town.

 Dona’s had wonderful reactions to her Swindon pieces and endless support from lots of Swindon bodies.

The library shop in Swindon central library stock her products. As does the shop at the museum & art gallery in Old Town and the cafe in Town Gardens. 

There’s a list of places that stock Dona’s work at the bottom of this post.

Swindon Artist’s Forum and Other Support Networks

Freelancers of all kinds need support networks and, in the case of artists in particular, somewhere to try out their work in a safe environment. Dona cites Swindon Artist’s Forum as one such place. Says Dona: ‘It’s a non-judgemental gallery for all comers.’ She is also a keen participant in Swindon Open Studios, displaying her work in Swindon’s central library. Yet another group that Dona is involved in is Swindon Urban Sketchers – looking them up I find that the Urban Sketchers are an international thing with chapters all over the place – including Swindon. I rather like that.

A Swindon urban sketchbook on its way to the art library in Brooklyn, New York. Should you visit you can go take it off the shelves there and view it. How FAB is that?

Down the Motorway to Bristol

It’s obvious enough that Dona finds suitable subjects for her illustrations beyond Swindon’s undoubted charms! These are many but notably – Bristol. When she has stalls, and participates in markets in Bristol, Dona accepts their local currency the Bristol pound. Over the 2018 festive season, Dona had a blast trading in Brizzle’s own currency and collaborating with seventy other traders at the Bristol Bazaar – a fabulous pop-up shop. 

In the Ether

By now you’re surely keen to see more of Dona’s work and follow her on social media. So:

  1. The Dona Bradley drawings website.
  2. Dona on Instagram – a great way to see Dona’s work –@donabdrawings
  3. Our old friend Facebook 
  4. And the Twittersphere of course – @dona_b_drawings

Shop local. Shop Independent. It’s Just a Card – or fridge magnet … !

There’s a growing appetite for shopping locally and supporting independents. Witness the diaspora of the coffee shop for a start. And the rise of artisan everything – now there’s an overused and wrongly used word – anyway! Anyone who’s paid any attention at all to this blog will know that I’ve written ad nauseam about the importance of shopping locally and supporting small businesses. I am one after all.

And so are artists! They have bills to pay just like the rest of us. Which is why there’s a thing, a campaign, called ‘Just a Card‘. From the website: ‘The JUST A CARD campaign aims to encourage people to buy from Designer/Makers and Independent Galleries and Shops by reinforcing the message that all purchases, however small, even ‘just a card‘ are so vital to the prosperity and survival of small businesses. 

The campaign came about when Artist & Designer Sarah Hamilton saw the quote “If everyone who’d complimented our beautiful gallery had bought ‘just a card‘ we’d still be open” by store keepers who’d recently closed their gallery.’ That makes you think doesn’t it? It’s an important message – one applicable to any small business and *ahem* blog owner. So Dona, of course, subscribes to the ‘Just a Card’ campaign.

Where you can get Dona’s work – aside from her website:

  1. Swindon Central Library
  2. Swindon Museum and Art Gallery
  3. Swindon Artist’s Forum
  4. Town Garden’s Cafe
  5. Visit Bristol
  6. Clifton Suspension Bridge
Lis McDermott: Author

Lis McDermott: Author

30th December 2018

Lis McDermott: Author

Lis McDermott author facebook page header

As we enter a new year, it’s pure delight to feature Lis McDernott to the ‘Made in Wiltshire’ section of Born again Swindonian. Writing is creating. And creating is making. So writing fits here as well as anything else.

Lis’ writing and business personas cross over somewhat. As the Headshot Diva, Lis does what it says and takes great headshot photographs. The crossover comes because Lis has written a book on that very topic – and you can find out more about that here. 

Lis McDermott author

Yet her output is much broader than that and I’m in awe. I mean, I do a spot of writing myself. There’s this blog for a start. And this year I became a published author for the first time with Secret Swindon. Plus, I’ve now got ‘Swindon in 50 Buildings’ underway. But the prolific Lis is three books ahead of me. And fiction? No. That’s not me at all. I don’t have that sort of creativity.

This is Lis’ author Facebook page:

And here are images of her varied publications:

About Lis

Hailing from Leicester, Lis now lives in Royal Wootton Basset with her husband, Conrad.

Lis is musically trained, with a thirty-four year long career in music education under her belt. During this period, along with Mary Edwards she co-authored (under the pseudonym Lis Fletcher), Nelson Music. Nelson Music being a three-volume music scheme for primary schools.

2008 saw Lis change career and turn to photography. This allowed her to bring together her two passions: pictures and people. Complementing the photography, Lis gives talks on the topic and on writing and changing career at a later stage in life. (I sure as heck know all about that! What with necessity being the mother of reinvention. Baby boomer deprived of state pension and all that jazz)

Lis became an author in her own right in 2014 with the publication of ‘Headshot Diva‘. A proud moment came with a short story she penned being included in a short story anthology.

In 2017 Lis published her own book of short stories, ‘Changing Lives: 8 short stories’. Her latest book is, ‘Mixed Feelings‘, an autobiography.

Amazon Links

Should you be interested in buying any of Lis’ books – and why wouldn’t you be – here are links to them on Amazon.

  1. Mixed Feelings (Wordcatcher Real Life Stories and Biographies)
  2. A Tilted View: A collection of poetry (Wordcatcher Modern Poetry)

  3. Headshot Diva: Why Your Business Profile Affects Your Bottom Line: Volume 1 (Lis McDermott Photography Series)

  4. Changing Lives: Eight Short Stories (Wordcatcher Modern Fiction)


T K Turns – wood turning

T K Turns – wood turning

T K Turns - wood turning

Made in Wiltshire

This post is the first in a series I’m going to run on this blog about Wiltshire craftspeople. Some of them will be hobbyists – others will be professionals earning a living from what they produce. But all of them will be people offering gorgeous things.

I don’t want to use the word ‘artisan’ – it’s overused and, as often as not, it’s incorrectly used. I get that the word ‘craft’ connotes knitting/crochet and felting – not that there’s nothing with that I hasten to add! – So I’ve gone with calling the section ‘Made in Wiltshire’.  This is largely a Swindon-centred blog but I’ve called it ‘Made in Wiltshire’ to allow for stretching a little beyond the boundaries of our beloved Swindon Borough Council.

If you’d like your creations featured here get in touch to discuss terms – they’re modest and vary – depending on whether you’re a pro or a talented hobbyist.

Getting the first turn – appropriately enough – is hobbyist Toby Kinton who is TK Turns. Below he writes in his own words how he got in to wood turning. It’s a nice story actually.

 I love the bowl with the resin inlay -I think that’s beautiful. I rather like the wine goblets too. #obvs

T K Turns – wood turning

I started wood turning by accident.  I had been to a medieval re-enactment and couldn’t understand why hand turned bowls were so expensive compared to the mass produced, machine made items that you can pick up in any supermarket.

One Saturday, when I had nothing else to do, I searched YouTube for ‘how to’ videos to try to work it out.  Eight hours later, I was still sitting there, watching artists from around the world make bowls and goblets magically appear from gnarly lumps of timber.  There is something hypnotic about the process – in the same way that one can get lost in the shape of a log fire, watching a form develop under the tools. I was hooked!  But unfortunately our 2 up/2 down in the centre of Swindon just didn’t have anywhere that I could put a lathe without serious detriment to my marriage. I was doomed to be a spectator. Or so I thought …

Around 18 months later, we had outgrown our little house and were on the hunt for a new property, my wife looking for a nice area, good access, well planned layout and all of the sensible attributes of a house, but all I was interested in was a garden big enough for a shed or even better, a garage!

The move came about and I finally had my man cave.  As is the nature of home moves, this hallowed space quickly became where stuff was put ‘until we could find a home for it’ and was essentially a dumping ground for clutter.  This wasn’t how I had planned my dream workshop.

On a Friday in April 2016, I got fed up with the situation and made myself a deal.  If I could make enough space in the garage by 3 o’clock, I would order a lathe.  By 1 o’clock the garage was clear and I was online, ordering lathe and tools.  The following morning at 7.45 my very surprised wife answered the door to a delivery driver and had to kick me out of bed to help unload a 100kg pallet into the garage.

Around four hours later, after a lot of swearing, head scratching and coffee breaks, the lathe was assembled, the tools were to hand and I was ready to start.  Of course, the one thing I had forgotten was wood.  After a frantic search of the house and garden, I found the ‘Sold’ sign from the house, lurking in a corner of the garage. I sawed it up into sections and started trying all of the techniques that I had leaned from YouTube. My first attempts were not successful, with my garden dibbers being likened to marital aids! Ann Summers eat your heat out. But I keep at it and slowly I worked out how the tools reacted to the grain of the wood, how to select the right speed on the lathe to get a clean cut and how to move my body rather than my hands to maintain a consistent finish.

Two and a half years on, it is still a hobby but my skills have developed, with my main output being bowls.  I have found a specialist woodturning shop in Didcot, The Toolpost, where I buy most of my wood.  Although it can be found cheaper online, in a real shop you can hold and feel the wood before you buy it and Peter and his team are always there for feedback, advice and occasional banter.

Most of my work is commissions from family and friends, bowls with custom pyrography or pens from a ‘special’ piece of wood. But I nurture hopes of saying goodbye to the rat race and becoming a full-time turner.  I know that I will never make my fortune from wood, but the joy I get from turning more than makes up for that.

Here’s a few images of my work:

Further selections of my work are available to view on my website and my Instagram feed (TKTurns) I use for work in progress pictures. If you want to know more you can contact me via me web form here.

You can also find me on Twitter here and Facebook here:



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