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War hero grandfather inspires Swindon art exhibition
A FORMER Swindon College student is showcasing his pictures based on the Second World War naval convoys that sailed through the Arctic under constant threat of the icy weather and enemy torpedoes.
Steve Bourne is best known for his ceramics, selling his work to Bloomingdale’s in America, but this is a fine art exhibition called England’s Glory and is on show at the Post Modern Art Gallery, in Theatre Square.
“This collection of work is based around the sailors that lost the lives in order for us to live free in the world,” he said. “My grandfather was adrift in a life boat for four days in the northern Arctic after being torpedoed.
“There were thousands of ships sunk in the Arctic convoys.
“His story, which he kept quiet, has inspired me to create these artworks.”
The paintings highlight the dangerous journeys undertaken by the Royal Navy and the Merchant Navy from 1939 to 1945.
Steve’s grandfather, Thomas Shirley, was aboard the SS Induna bound for Mumansk in Russia when the ship was torpedoed.
Steve said: “The waves were as big as buildings and ice formed on the ships making them roll completely over.’’ Thomas made it to one of the two lifeboats and spent the next few days rowing in the swell and the blizzarding snow as the sail had broken in the cold.
Seventeen out of the 33 men in the lifeboat died but Thomas survived to be picked up by a Russian minesweeper.
The exhibition is open until February 23 from 11am to 4pm.