In the years after the end of the Second World War, life was a daily struggle of survival. Following the currency reform in 1948, life gradually returned to normal. At the beginning of the 1950s, travel abroad was very difficult for Germans. Due to lack of funds and the difficulty for German citizens to get a visa, domestic travel became the means of choice to get a change of scenery.
The island of Sylt, and in particular its adult education centre the “Volkshochschule Klappholttal”, became a popular holiday destination among creative people, intellectuals and artists in the early 50s.
It is one of the oldest establishments of its kind in Schleswig-Holstein. It is now the site of the “Academy by the sea” - Die Akademie am Meer. The island’s coastal dunes and the North Sea were a welcome change for Erwin Bowien and the Heinen family after years of hardship. It was there that they met the Hamburg-based painter Amud Uwe Millies. So impressed by Erwin Bowien, Millies would later come to Solingen and join the Artists’ Colony.
Over several summers in the early 1950s, Bowien, Bettina and Amud worked on the island of Sylt. Many important works which would later go on display at the Nissenhaus museum in Husum were created there. An oil painting by Erwin Bowien stills hangs to this day at the Academy by the sea as a reminder of this creative period in his life.