How Hull sculpture marks centuries-old sea connection

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At face value, Hull’s Voyage statue depicts a human figure stood on a plinth, staring out across the Humber river.

But beyond the surface lies a historic connection among two communities, forged by the expanse of water that stretches between them.

The sun sets over Hull's Voyage sculpture. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe.

The sun sets over Hull's Voyage sculpture. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe.

From Iceland, a sister statue, For, made by the same artist - Steinunn Thorarinsdottir - looks across the North Atlantic towards its Hull counterpart, facing the wind and rain-buffeted coastline in a small, village called Vik. In days gone by, it was here that many Yorkshire trawlermen were rescued and given food and shelter when their vessels ran aground.

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Together, the pair of sculptures commemorate centuries of sea-trading and fishing relations between the localities. Despite a sour period during the ‘Cod Wars’, a dispute over fishing rights between the 1950s and 1976, Hull and Iceland have been trading partners for more than 1,000 years and the statues, supported by both the British and Icelandic governments symbolise the renewed friendship.

At the unveiling of Vik’s piece, Thorarinsdottir said she hoped the monuments would be a “lasting tribute to the close relationship”. Sadly though, Hull’s Voyage, did not stand the test of time.

After being unveiled in June 2006, for five years it stood in place, looking out towards the North Sea in the direction that trawlermen would have travelled as they headed out to fish in Icelandic waters. But in 2011, it was stolen, most likely for its scrap value, sparking outrage.

The city council agreed to spend £40,000 from its insurance reserves on a replacement.

“It is a clear message to all those involved past, present and future in making a living from the sea that the council recognises the huge contribution made by them to the city,” the authority said at the time.

The sculpture that now stands today is a replica from a mould taken from its Icelandic sister piece. Though not the original, the meaning behind it is not any less.

Technical details: Nikon D5 camera, 70-200mm lens with an exposure of 1/400th sec @ f10. ISO 400.