ANCIENT Norse mythology and centuries-old Viking raids on the North East coastline have combined to inspire a dazzling new piece of artwork by a talented sculptor.
Former boat builder Tom Newstead has used driftwood washed up by the waves and natural materials such as sea shells, coal and stones to create the life-size figure of a Norse goddess.
The Valkyrie – which according to legend was a female figure who decided which Viking soldiers die in battle and which survive – has been sculpted over several months at his workshop in Seaton Sluice, Northumberland.
The figure has now been added to a wooden fishing coble which Tom has spent more than a year restoring to its former glory, after rescuing it from the village harbour where it had been abandoned and left to sink.
The Valkyrie sculpture, whose jewellery has been fashioned from shells and coal gathered from nearby Collywell Bay, is shown sailing into battle in a wrecked Viking longboat.
The eye-catching artwork is attracting admiring glances from passers-by at the spot below the Melton Constable pub where Tom keeps the restored coble, The Star of Hope.
Tom, 66, hopes that his labour of love will eventually go on permanent display somewhere in Seaton Sluice, and he has been having discussions with the local parish council on how that might happen.
He salvaged the wooden coble, whose owner no longer needed it, in 2011 and has been using his carpentry and artistic skills to lovingly restore it as part of the village’s maritime heritage.
It was built by master boat builder Hector Handyside of Amble in 1967 and, like many Northumberland fishing cobles, is based on the original design of Viking ships.
Five months ago Tom decided to mark the Norse connection by creating the Valkyrie figure as an addition to the restored vessel.
He said: “It is made from stuff I’ve picked up from the harbour or beach. I’ve put the figure in the boat as an exhibition at the moment and I’ve been talking to the parish council about where it might end up. I might end up selling the whole thing, but I’d like it to stay in Seaton Sluice if possible.
“I thought it would be nice to do something on the Viking theme, and I think the Valkyrie looks good in what is a beautiful boat. Nobody would have taken this project on except a boat builder like me.”
Tom believes his new artwork will be safe in its open-air location as it is claimed anyone damaging or defacing it would invoke a local Viking curse condemning them to the darkest depths of Niflheim – a Norse version of hell – where the dragon Nidhogg would gnaw on their corpse.
Tom, who lives in Seaton Sluice, would welcome donations towards the maintenance of his project. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org