Artist Andrew Raney and Inga Leavell of the Sons of Norway Nordic Lodge are looking for a serene space to harbour the Viking ship garden bench in honour of the Lodge’s 60th anniversary. Photo: Jim Bailey

Artist Andrew Raney and Inga Leavell of the Sons of Norway Nordic Lodge are looking for a serene space to harbour the Viking ship garden bench in honour of the Lodge’s 60th anniversary. Photo: Jim Bailey

Sons of Norway ship seeks friendly harbour in the Kootenays

Viking ship/bench celebrates the Sons of Norway’s, Nordic Lodge 76, 60th anniversary in West Kootenay

The Sons of Norway Nordic Lodge 76 is on the look out for a place to moor a historic piece of functional art.

Salmo artist/sculptor Andrew Raney was commissioned to produce a Nordic themed garden bench to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Nordic Lodge, based in Castlegar.

The metalworks artist created a small scale, intricately welded Viking longship, which from curl to curl measures eight feet, with traditional coloured shields and a sturdy fir bench.

“I have seen the real thing, and made note of the construction, but of course I’m not going to make it out of wood, because it would require high maintenance,” said the artist.

Raney employs oxy-acetylene and MIG welding techniques in his sculptures. The welded steel hull is covered with rustic paint, with a heavy keel to keep it upright and on course, supporting even the most robust recliners. Colourful shields with ornate symbols provide counterpoint to the sleek sloping skeleton of the hull.

Originally from Ontario, the artist has spent the last 30 years in the Kootenays honing his craft, creating a variety of works in many mediums, yet, as most can discern, his preference is metal work.

“I have done such a vast range of things, I do a lot of artistically aesthetic, then I do functional aesthetic,” says Raney.

Andrew and Inga. Photo: Jim Bailey

Andrew and Inga. Photo: Jim Bailey

The Nordic garden ship is currently docked at the home of Ingeborg (Inga) Leavell, director of the Nordic Lodge. A contributor to the Sons of Norway publication, The Leiflette, Leavall’s ties to the Viking culture run deep, and she is perfectly happy to store the artwork on her lawn in Fruitvale.

“The intention is to find a home for it in Castlegar where the Nordic Lodge was formed Sept. 20, 1961,” said Leavell.

“I know Andrew did a lot of homework on this and research long before making the ship.”

Raney’s great, great grandfather, in fact, was a sea-captain in Norway before migrating to Canada.

“I’ve always had that northern European influence I suppose, but it hasn’t really manifested itself in my work particularly, this was just blatant, I mean — it’s a Viking ship.”

Raney’s distinctive sculptures have appeared at galleries, open spaces, and institutions across Canada. Residents can see his sculptures of ravens perched outside the Rossland Public Library, at various galleries, and at Nelson’s Craft Connection Cooperative.

“Every time you make something like this, you say, ‘I should have done this, I should have done that,’” said Raney, adding that he changed the base (keel) of the ship sculpture to make it more supportive and functional.

“It’s actually very comfortable to sit on too,” he added. “The back is also flexible for when you lean back on it.”

Leavell says she has approached various groups, galleries, and municipalities, but no one has committed to showcase the piece inside or out — at least not yet.

“So for now, the bench will sit on my lower lawn to honour the Norse spirit of the Scandinavians who settled in our region,” added Leavell. “I’m very proud of it because it took four years in the making.”

Sons of Norway Chapter 76 met recently to recognize its 60th year in the West Kootenay. From left: Conrad Brattebo (in Viking helmet and the sole surviving charter member from 1961), President Ida Price, Glen and Eileen Axselson, Sandra Gundersen, Ole Kristiansen, Ingeborg Leavell (in a traditional Norwegian bunad), Ben Thor-Larsen, and Trish and Reino Rasku.

Sons of Norway Chapter 76 met recently to recognize its 60th year in the West Kootenay. From left: Conrad Brattebo (in Viking helmet and the sole surviving charter member from 1961), President Ida Price, Glen and Eileen Axselson, Sandra Gundersen, Ole Kristiansen, Ingeborg Leavell (in a traditional Norwegian bunad), Ben Thor-Larsen, and Trish and Reino Rasku.

The Sons of Norway Nordic Lodge is the largest Norwegian-American organization in the world, comprised of members in the United States, Canada and Norway.

The organization provides opportunities for members to familiarize themselves with the culture and traditions of Norway through activities and events throughout the year.

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