Consett artist Sheila Mackie is honoured in her home town

AN artist and teacher who inspired TV star Alun Armstrong among countless others is to be permanently honoured in her home town.

Sheila Mackie with her picture Island Grumfitt

AN artist and teacher who inspired TV star Alun Armstrong among countless others is to be permanently honoured in her home town.

This week a heritage trail is to be launched in Consett, County Durham, to celebrate the life and work of the late Sheila Mackie.

Sheila, who died last year aged 82, taught art at the former Consett Grammar School in Blackfyne, from 1950 to 1982.

One of her pupils was Armstrong, a star of television’s New Tricks, who said she had inspired him to do a degree in fine art at Newcastle University when he failed to get into drama school.

Her work brought her to the attention of other actors including Donald Sinden and Charlton Heston while she illustrated books by David Bellamy and Magnus Magnusson.

On Thursday Durham County Council is launching a Sheila Mackie heritage trail.

A series of works and the story of the inspirational character will go on show at a number of council venues including the library, the new academy site at Blackfyne where she taught, and the council office in Front Street.

Durham County Councillor Owen Temple, a former teaching colleague of Ms Mackie’s, said: “Her paintings were displayed in Consett Civic Centre after they were bought by the old Derwentside District Council as an investment.

“After local government reorganisation they were shut away at County Hall, Durham, so I am delighted that they will now be on display around the town. This is something I have been campaigning for and I am very grateful for the assistance of Roger Goodes and his Policy and Communications team at the county council.”

Cabinet member for leisure, libraries and lifelong learning, Coun Maria Plews, said: “Sheila was an extremely talented professional artist who worked on books and TV series with celebrities such as David Bellamy and Magnus Magnusson. But she was also a well loved local art teacher and a larger than life character that inspired several generations of local children and artists to emulate her skill and imagination.

“Her work reflected her love of local wildlife and legends and she will be fondly missed by many in her local community. This is a wonderful chance to celebrate both Sheila and her work and I am sure the heritage trail will prove popular.”

Sheila, who lived at Shotley Bridge, was known for her wildlife and futuristic works, created in her caravan-cum-studio.

A painter in oils and acrylics, she exhibited at the Royal Academy and the Scottish Royal Academy. As a young art teacher, she would “run away” to the old Bertram Mills circus for several months every year – painting life under the big top.

The unveiling of a painting in Consett library at 2pm on Thursday will coincide with the trail launch and an open afternoon to celebrate Sheila’s life.

The event will be attended by Sheila’s son, Jamie Fenwick.

Her work reflected her love of local wildlife and legends and she will be fondly missed

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