As part of the WW1 centenary commemorations, Glasgow-based and Turner Prize-nominated artist Ciara Phillips was commissioned to dazzle a ship (and, no, she neither blinded nor impressed it).
Dazzle is a WW1 camouflage technique that sounds like the opposite of a camouflage technique. Ships were covered in complex patterns and geometric shapes – a direct route not only to the funkiest sea vessels around, but also to preventing the enemy from determining the range, speed or heading of the ship.
Following in the footsteps of Sir Peter Blake, Ciara was the fourth artists commissioned to dazzle a ship by 14-18 NOW, a programme of art commemorating the WW1 centenary. Want to learn more about WW1 dazzle ships with modern technology? Download the Dazzle app.
Unveiled ahead of the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Jutland, Ciara’s piece Every Woman celebrates the untold contribution role of women during WW1, particularly inspired the team who developed the dazzle designs under marine artist Norman Wilkinson, their creator. Her design also includes a morse code message reading ‘Every Woman a Signal Tower’, as women also worked as telegraphists and signallers.
Image: Ciara Phillips with her work.
Artists have long been involved in dazzle and camouflage - from early camoufleurs, who were often artists, to Picasso who said of Dazzle camouflage 'Yes, it is we who made it, that is cubism.' But the credit rests with Norman Wilkinson for employing it in WW1, and artist Edward Wadsworth who supervised dazzling over 2,000 ships in WW1.
Image: Olympic with Returned Soldiers by Arthur Lismer via Wikimedia Commons.
Image: Nebraska via Wikimedia Commons.
Image: USS Indianapolis, underway in 1944.