'I want to find my roots' - Artist's hunt for tales of painter father

Terri Broughton is hunting for information on her father.

Terri Broughton is hunting for information on her father, Harry Hiorns, a self-taught painter who died when she was very young. - Credit: Terri Broughton.

A former headteacher is appealing for help as she searches for tales of her painter father who died when she was just a child.

Artist Terri Broughton, from Fakenham, is appealing to anyone who knows anything about her father, Harry Hiorns, a self-taught painter who died when she was very young.

Recently she has found a 60-year-old newspaper story about his successful career as an artist.

Mrs Broughton lost both her parents in childhood. When she was five her 33-year-old mother, Pat died from asthma. Two years later she lost her father, aged 40.

Terri and her two sisters, Julie and Sandra, were taken into care and fostered separately, only meeting up again in adulthood.

 Harry Hiorns, a self-taught painter

Terri Broughton, from Fakenham. is appealing to anyone who knows anything about her father, Harry Hiorns, a self-taught painter who died when she was very young - Credit: Terri Broughton.

Mrs Broughton, who is now in her early 60s, has enjoyed a rapid rise in the world of art. With her own exhibition in London at the Brick Lane Gallery in December, her work features across the world.


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“When I was eight, I won a certificate for art and the foster woman I was living with at the time pointed directly at me and stated, as if it were a command, 'you are not a painter, your father was a painter'," she said.

“I spent a lot of my early life thinking I was not intelligent, being told I was thick and stupid.”

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After her first marriage and as a mother of two she attended the West Anglian college, studying a BTEC in 3D design and ceramics.

After taking a year out to look after her children she undertook a degree in Loughborough, before training to become an art therapist and eventually a teacher.  

Terri Broughton with a collection of her paintings. 

Terri Broughton with a collection of her paintings. - Credit: Terri Broughton.

She later became head of The King’s Lynn Academy for five years.

But she still wanted to reach her artistic side. Her husband, Tony, brought her a four-day course at the Norfolk Painting School, but she felt discouraged by the work she created.

“I didn’t turn up on the last day and left all my paintings behind, I believed that ‘someone like me’ could not paint,” she said. “The voices of the past came back to haunt me.”

“I was offered some work experience at the school and Martin Kinnear, the course director said to me 'come and take our Diploma for a year'.”

“Initially I was self-conscience and could not do it because of my ‘mind chatter’ but as time went on it got easier. I owe them a lot.”

Her first exhibition in Norfolk was cancelled due to the nature of her paintings, such as children in gas masks, which was not deemed suitable by the venue.

She was due to have a show at The Norfolk Painting school, but the pandemic meant it had to be cancelled.

Despite these knockbacks, she continued to paint and was contacted by UNESCO to submit her work. She was one of 250 artists representing 120 countries selected for the UNESCO Beirut and MEADOWS Mask Art - creativity under lockdown online exhibition.

Terri Broughton's work includes images of people wearings masks. 

Terri Broughton's work includes images of people wearings masks. - Credit: Terri Broughton.

Recently she gave a talk to staff at the Tate Modern and now has her work displayed around the world.

She says she is still missing something, as she wants to know more about the man who shared her talent for painting.

“I just wanted to find my roots. I have so little information about my parents. They are still a large part of my thinking," she said.

“I always thought I was going home to my father, but suddenly, whilst living in a foster home, I was told that he had died.”

“Losing parents at such a young age leaves a hole. One that I have wanted to make sense of my whole life. Painting somehow helps me fill that gap.

“I am very keen to piece more of the jigsaw together and sincerely hope that the article about my father sheds light on his life and his work.”

She is now asking anyone with information or the work of her father to come forward and share them with her.

If you know anything about Harry Hiorns please contact Terri via: enquiries@terribroughtonart.co.uk

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