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Voyage – commemorating Hull’s trade & seafaring heritage with Iceland

After arriving in Hull on a Friday evening, as one of the organisers of this year’s Yorkshire Heritage Summit being held the next day, I decided to take a stroll around the city. It was already dark and Hull’s night time economy was in full swing when I arrived at the Victoria Pier.


I immediately saw, the impressive aquarium called The Deep, situated at the confluence of The River Hull and the Humber Estuary. The aquarium was lit up and as I walked closer I was intrigued by a statue standing in front of The Deep.


The statue was a tall 6ft figure sitting upon a plinth, staring out across the Humber estuary and called Voyage.


The story behind the statue is interesting. The sculpture is made out of bronze on a basalt plinth and it stares out towards Iceland. In past times Yorkshire fishermen would leave the city to fish the waters around Iceland from this spot. Voyage actually faces directly towards Iceland.


But Voyage has a partner statue. An exact replica known as For (Icelandic for Voyage), stares back from a tiny village on Iceland’s south coast. The village is called Vik.


Both sculptures were created by Icelandic artist Steinunn Þórarinsdóttir where she wanted to celebrate decades of trade and seafaring heritage between the two regions. The residents of Vik would often help rescue Hull sailors or shelter hull vessels caught in dangerous storms.

The sculptures were unveiled in 2006 and was seen as a way of rebuilding relationships which had declined with Hull’s fishing industry’s decline at the same time as the Cod Wars.


A spokesperson for Hull City Council said at the original unveiling “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,” 


Unfortunately the story of Voyage does have a strange twist as sadly in 2011, the original statue was taken under cover of darkness from its plinth, believed to have been stolen to order for the value of the metal. It has never been found.


Fortunately, a replica of the statue in Vik was re-cast by Þórarinsdóttir, and it is the replica that now stands at Victoria Pier. Hull City Council having spent extra on security and CCTV to ensure the statue doesn’t get stolen again by thieves.


So whilst it is not the original, I hope you will agree that the sculpture does still look stunning staring out to sea and the meaning behind the piece still has a huge amount of significance between the City of Hull and Iceland.


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