MEMORY LANE: North Shore artist uses work to reflect on life’s journey

A love of art and of books and language has accompanied Inge Glaser Bachrich all her life, which began in Germany 90 years ago.

“I started drawing when I was small, I suppose partly because I was often alone, not in a bad way, just circumstances. I really liked it. I remember forever drawing skiers going down ski hills, and drawing classmates, those drawings weren’t good but they were recognizable,” she says. “I have continued to draw people that I know. I suppose I felt they would last longer in my memory.”

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Inge was 11 years old in 1939 when she left her home and family in Germany to join the Kindertransport. With her went a rucksack full of chocolate candies and a suitcase that held two books of fairytales and her beloved doll, Lotti.

Inge’s Kindertransport was one of the last trips organized by a humanitarian rescue program that brought some 10,000 Jewish children to safety in the United Kingdom before the Second World War broke out in September, 1939.

Inge remembers fragments of the journey from her home in Hamburg to her destination in northern Ireland: her name on a card hung round her neck; the moment when she discovered those chocolate candies had all been smashed; and lemonade.

The sweet and cooling drink was served to the children by the ladies of the court of Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands as they waited in the summer heat for transport to Great Britain.

On her arrival in Belfast, Inge was greeted by her elder sister who had travelled with an earlier Kindertransport group, and by her sponsors, Miss Katie and Miss Annie. The two sisters ran a small boarding school in a hotel that would be Inge’s home for the next several years.

Inge has mementos from that time: drawings of teachers and classmates in the margins of her school notebooks; the poems she learned by heart, copied into a book which she illustrated, and which earned her a prize for proficiency in elocution; and the few letters she received from her parents before the letters stopped arriving.

A degree from Queen’s University in Belfast and a stint as a social worker led Inge to London where she worked as a writer, editor and translator with the German-born publisher and philanthropist Paul Hamlyn.

Children of all ages may have the Paul Hamlyn company and Inge to thank for producing a new translation of Heidi, the classic children’s novel by Johanna Spyri, but Inge admits her heart has always been with poetry.

“I enjoyed translating poetry because you must really re-invent the poem with new words in another language, and the illustrations accompanying the originals were excellent guides,” she notes.

Inge and her husband, Jakob “Jack” Bachrich emigrated to Canada in 1959, arriving in Vancouver on July 4, the same day she arrived in northern Ireland.

In the suitcase Inge brought with her on this journey to a new life were the two books of fairytales she brought from Germany, school notebooks and drawings, the illustrated collection of poetry and the prize it won for her - Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, and as always, Lotti.

“Vancouver was absolute heaven back in 1959, much less ‘city-ish,’” Inge recalls.

Inge and Jascha, as she called her husband, shared an interest in art. He, an engineer, loved the chemistry of paint. Inge loved the ephemeral beauty of water colour. They joined the Federation of Canadian Artists and hosted discussions about modern art in their Kitsilano apartment, as part of the University of British Columbia’s Living Room Learning program.

With the first of their two sons on the way in 1961, Inge and Jascha found a home for their growing family in North Vancouver.

By 1973, when the boys were old enough, Inge returned to university. Her credentials from Simon Fraser University led her to teach at the Pacific Vocational Institute, which is now part of BCIT.

Wherever Inge has lived she has made herself part of the community, volunteering in education and visiting people in hospital, accompanied by one of her many much-loved cats.

Throughout her life, Inge has expressed her creativity through art. She joined the West Vancouver Sketch Club, now the North Shore Artists’ Guild, in 1992.

Her exhibitions include a solo show at the Dundarave Cafe and group shows at the Silk Purse and the Harmony Arts Festival in West Vancouver. This year, Inge’s paintings were featured in the North Shore Art Crawl. 

Her most recent work can be seen at Ron Andrews Recreation Centre in North Vancouver until Sept. 2. The exhibition, Contained Within, is shared with potters Coralie Triance and Narissa Huq-Schede from Parkgate Ceramics Studio.

For Inge, her work has become a kind of diary of friends’ faces and beloved places. This aide-memoire, and Inge’s treasured keepsakes, remind her that life’s journey has been, and continues to be, rewarding, satisfying and enjoyable, Carry on, Inge!

Laura Anderson works with and for seniors on the North Shore. Contact her at 778-279-2275 or email her at lander1@shaw.ca.

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