Glasswork celebrates family’s wartime bravery

Terri Harper with her glass exhibit reflecting Britain's wartime spirit.
Terri Harper with her glass exhibit reflecting Britain's wartime spirit.
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AN artist has drawn on her own family history to create a piece highlighting bravery and tragedy.

In a year celebrating the heroism of wartime Britain, both through the centenary of the First World War and 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings, Terri Harper, a final-year student in Glass and Ceramics at the University of Sunderland, used the tales of her great-aunt Ethel Lees Bowker as inspiration.

As part of the Glass and 
Ceramics Degree Show, Terri 
has created panels of screen-printed glass depicting the life of Ethel.

Terri, a mature student, said: “She was a bit of a folk hero in the family, but she never talked about it and I don’t even think, if pressed, she would have wanted to.”

In 1913, at the age of 27, Ethel emigrated from Britain to Australia.

At the outbreak of war in 1914, she headed into the outback where her train derailed in the desert and she was stranded for three days.

She returned to Britain in 1918, married and had five children. The family moved to Jersey where Ethel was widowed and left to bring her children up alone.

Following the outbreak of the Second World War, the Germans invaded the Channel Islands. All three of Ethel’s daughters were imprisoned for six months, then all the family was put in a concentration camp in northern Germany for two and a half years.

Ethel’s son, Eric, kept a journal, which tells of the harrowing time they had spent there.

In 1945, they were liberated by the Allies. Ethel eventually settled back in Jersey where she died in 1966.

Terri said: “It was an amazing tale, and to me a tale of bravery as well and stoicism.”

The artwork was created for the Degree Show at National Glass Centre and is accompanied by both Ethel and Eric’s journals, recreated by Terri.

Terri’s latest piece took three months to create.

She said: “I feel like it’s been a wonderful testament to my great aunt Ethel, and I feel I have done her proud.”

The Degree Show at National Glass Centre runs until Sunday and is free to visit.