Thanks the mediation of his childhood friend Eric Thibeaud from Neuchâtel, Erwin Bowien was able to return to Switzerland from 1948. After a short time, he was able to bring the remaining members of the colony to the country too. The most important location for the colony in Switzerland was the small town of Orselina, above Locarno in the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino, where both Bettina Heinen-Ayech and Erwin Bowien made yearly painting trips in the 1950s and 60s, occasionally accompanied by Amud Uwie Millies.
Due to the intense grief she felt following the death of her husband, Erna Heinen-Steinhoff and her granddaughter spent many months each year in Ticino. They were often visited by Erwin Bowien there.
Bowien, who was a very talented communicator, met the Roth family from Bern and the Eggenberger family from St. Gallen while painting there. These lifelong friendships would lead him to many other acquaintances in a very short space of time. Having grown up in Switzerland and being a classmate of future Swiss president Max Petitpierre, he had a great affinity with the land of cantons. In a short space of time, he would establish a large network of friends and supporters in the country.
The most important of these friends and supporters was the future president of the Swiss Federal Railways, Mr Eduard M. Fallet von Castelberg, who would later found the Friends of Erwin Bowien Society at the German Blade Museum in Solingen in 1976 following the death of the artist.
With the intervention of the Roth family, Switzerland’s first ever Bowien exhibition was held at the “innere Enge” gallery in Bern in 1952.
Alongside his pupil Bettina, who would create her first masterpieces during her stays in Ticino, he explored the valleys around the Lago Maggiore. They painted in Ascona, by the large lake in Brissago, and Locarno. However, the greatest experience was the acquaintances he made there.
Erna Heinen-Steinhoff, Hanns Heinen and Amud Uwe Millies were often present, making Orselina the Black House colony’s “Summer Retreat”. However, Erwin Bowien went one step further. It was there that he developed his plan to make his “Swiss Series”, which he would work on for the rest of his days.