Viola Trust issues lockdown challenge to artists and writers

“Rust in Peace” by Carol Davidson
“Rust in Peace” by Carol Davidson, which was on show in this year’s Ferens Open Exhibition.

The Viola Trust, which is working to bring the Viola trawler back to Hull from her current location on the beach at Grytviken, South Georgia, has issued a lockdown challenge to artists and writers to create their interpretation of the ship and its remarkable history.

The Trust is inviting entries now for The Viola Trawler 1,000 Words Competition, drawn from the famous quote that a picture is worth a thousand words.

The Trust will award prizes in the art and writing categories at adult and junior levels and hopes to work towards holding an exhibition of shortlisted entries and producing a second Viola Trawler calendar.

Norman Court, Project Manager for the Viola Trust, said: “The response to our 2020 calendar was phenomenal and the obvious question was how to follow that? We started to think about an art competition when we saw the Viola featured in the Ferens Open Exhibition, and now we’ve decided to go ahead and invite creative people of all ages to see what they can do during the lockdown.

“We’re pushing on with our plans to bring the Viola back but there’s no escaping the fact that the pandemic has presented problems for everybody. If creative people have time on their hands we’d urge them to help us raise awareness and funds for the Viola.”

“Homeward Bound”, the official Viola calendar for 2020, featured a series of paintings of ships and boats with strong Hull connections by Holderness-based artist Larry Malkin and was published with considerable support from businesses in Hull and East Yorkshire. 

Orders came in from around the world and a calendar – plus a bottle of Viola gin from Hotham’s Distillery in Hepworth’s Arcade, Hull – was delivered in person by Dr Robb Robinson, a Viola trustee, to Nigel Phillips CBE, Her Majesty’s Commissioner for South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, at Government House in Port Stanley.

Larry Malkin
Larry Malkin at work on one of his paintings of the Viola during a Viola Trust event at Hull Guildhall.

Larry will be one of the judges for the art section of the competition along with Carol Davidson, who has displayed two Viola paintings in the Ferens Open Exhibition in recent years. Other judges for both sections will be announced in due course.

The Viola Trawler 1,000 Words Competition is open to all – not just residents of the Hull and East Yorkshire area – and offers prizes and extensive publicity for the successful entrants, who can submit as many works in each category as they wish with a £5 donation to the Viola Trust payable for each entry.

The judges will award a £200 prize for the best artwork and another £200 for the best written piece. There will also be an additional prize of £100 in each category for the entry which comes top in a public vote following an exhibition of work shortlisted by the judges but not selected for the top prize.

Each category will also be open to artists and writers aged 16 and under on the closing date of 1 September 2020. Entry for juniors will be free of charge. Prizes are to be confirmed and are likely to be modest cash awards or vouchers.

The Trust intends to display the shortlisted artworks and written pieces at an exhibition later this year and to feature a selection of the artworks and possibly some of the written work in the official Viola 2021 calendar.

The artworks selected for the exhibition of shortlisted entries will be auctioned with 50 per cent of the proceeds going to the Viola campaign and the other 50 per cent retained by the artist. The Trust is also looking forward to setting a date for the auction of Larry’s paintings from “Homeward Bound” after the original plans were hit by the lockdown.

Larry said: “’Ships and boats are almost living objects with characters and souls all of their own. The Viola is no exception. Here is a little vessel with a huge heart and a history that is like no other. She calls to us to bring her home from the other side of the Earth after experiencing two World Wars, the pain of whales, fish and sealions and the hopes and fears of untold numbers of seamen. I felt that I just had to smooth her passage and hope that others will be inspired to join me.”

Norman added: “We’re still working towards bringing the Viola back in 2021. We are awaiting the results of an inspection of the hull by divers from the British Antarctic Survey, we are pulling together an environmental impact survey and we are monitoring the coronavirus situation globally in the hope that we can find a new date to send our own team to carry out a full survey of the ship, which was postponed because of the lockdown.

“Meanwhile the fund raising drive continues with gin sales at Hotham’s and with this exciting competition which will give people and businesses the opportunity to get behind the Viola campaign and the cultural community locally and further afield.

“We’re also continuing our efforts to secure support from businesses and large charities and we would very much like to hear from anybody who can help with that.”

For full details of the competition and how to enter please visit the Viola trawler website at www.violatrawler.net or email info@violatrawler.net

[Phil Ascough – Ascough Associates]