One Thousand Words Competition Captures The Magic Of The Viola Trawler

One Thousand Words Competition Captures The Magic Of The Viola Trawler
One Thousand Words Competition Captures The Magic Of The Viola Trawler

A writer and an artist who discovered the stories of the Viola trawler by way of a cultural competition have now been inspired to use their work to spread the word about her exploits and the campaign to bring her home.

The pair took first place in their respective categories in the “One Thousand Words” competition organised by the Viola Trust, challenging creatives to paint a picture or write a short story.

Alison Riley, whose writing desk at her home in overlooks the North Sea, delighted judges drawn from the Viola trustees with her poem, “Far From Home” which charted key aspects of the Viola’s long and proud and her series of name changes.

Steve Fletcher, a -born sculptor and artist, submitted two works which he painted in his home studio at . The winning entry, “Heading Home”, shows the Viola in her fishing days, sailing past the chalk cliffs of Flamborough Head and Bempton on her way back to .

Alison works as Communications Officer for the Peak National Park and has developed her skills to secure a BA Honours in Creative Writing.

She said: “I read about the competition and it captured my imagination. I saw there was a book about the Viola so I bought it, read it and found the most amazing story which fired my imagination. Now I want to know more about it.”

Alison is now in touch with Dr Robb Robinson, a Viola trustee and renowned maritime historian, to research further details of the ship’s with a view to writing more poems and stories.

Steve has been drawing and painting since he was a child and heard about the competition from another Holderness artist Larry Malkin, who along with -based artist Carol Davidson helped with judging the competition. Steve has offered to assist the Viola Trust by completing more paintings depicting other phases of the Viola’s career.

He said: “I paint horses, dogs even elephants and my family were involved with the trawlers so I decided to enter the competition. I looked at photographs online and after I’d finished the painting I saw a model of the Viola at the Fishing Heritage Centre.

“I’ve never entered anything into a competition before so I’m very pleased to win and I’m certainly interested in doing more paintings to support the Viola Trust and help to bring the Viola back.”

Paul Escreet, Chairman of the Viola Trust, said: “Both categories were very competitive and we are delighted that the competition encouraged such talented people to explore the stories of the Viola and to create such wonderful work.

“We are extremely impressed with the calibre of entries which we received from artists and writers and we will use the work of Alison, Steve and the other finalists to promote the Viola and help to raise awareness of our campaign to bring her back to . We hope to stage an exhibition of the works as soon as circumstances permit.”

The Viola was built in in 1906 and operated from Humber Dock – now Marina – as part of the Hellyer fleet of boxing trawlers. She was requisitioned to defend the UK in the Great War and left for the last time in 1918 on a career which took her to Norway, and Argentina, catching fish, hunting whales and elephant seals and supporting expeditions in the South Atlantic.

The Viola sits on a beach where she was mothballed following the closure in 1964–65 of the old whaling station in Grytviken, South Georgia. The Viola Trust, which is led by a group of businesspeople with strong maritime and heritage credentials with former Home Secretary Alan Johnson as Patron, has reached an agreement with the Government of South Georgia and the South Islands for her removal and her return to Hull.

To find out more about the campaign to bring the Viola back to Hull please visit

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