Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Dazzle Ships

An exciting installation commemorating the First World War is currently on the River Thames at Victoria Embankment. HMS President (1918) has been dazzled!

HMS President (1918) at Victoria Embankment
Photo by Emma Vining
The German artist Tobias Rehberger was commissioned by 14-18 Now (WW1 Centenary Art Commissions) to design his version of dazzle camouflage for the ship. There is a wonderful time lapse short film of the dazzling in action on the 14-18 Now website. You can view the dazzle ship from Waterloo Bridge, Blackfriars Bridge and along the South Bank, with one of the best vantage points being near the OXO Building.

HMS President (1918) at Victoria Embankment
Photo by Emma Vining
In Liverpool, as part of the Liverpool Biennial, Maestro Carlos Cruz Diez was commissioned to  dazzle the Edmund Gardener, an historic pilot ship in dry dock adjacent to Albert Dock. A second film on the 14-18 Now website shows the colourful dazzling being applied to this ship. At a recent talk at the Royal Academy, Maestro revealed that his inspirations for the design were colours that represent Britain, especially those on London buildings and doorways.

The Edmund Gardener, Liverpool.
Photo by Craig Stanley Adamson
During WW1 many ships were dazzled to confuse the view of their movement when seen through a U Boat periscope. The designs were developed and tested at the Royal Academy in London. A blog post on dazzle ships at the RA can be found here. A great display of model dazzle ships can be seen in the new WW1 Galleries at the Imperial War Museum. 

Dazzle ship models at the Imperial War Museum
Photo by Emma Vining
More on the background of dazzle ships can be found on the 14-18Now website here and a short history of dazzle ships and their deployment in WW1 can be found on the BBC website

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