TateShots

Peter Blake: Everbody Razzle Dazzle

Dazzle painting – camouflage created by artists, used during WW1 to confuse enemies targeting British ships

Sir Peter Blake’s pop inspired dazzle design decorated the Mersey commuter ferry Snowdrop.

Everybody Razzle Dazzle was created in honour of dazzle painting – a form of camouflage created by artists, used during WW1 to confuse and mislead enemies targeting British naval vessels.

Sir Peter’s twist on the iconic technique is his largest scale commission to date. It gave Liverpool visitors an opportunity to step on board a floating artwork.

Everybody Razzle Dazzle wasco-commissioned by Liverpool Biennial 2015, WW1 Centenary Art Commissions, and Tate Liverpool in partnership with Merseytravel and National Museums Liverpool (Merseyside Maritime Museum). Supported by Arts Council England, National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund and Department for Culture Media and Sport.

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Transcription

V1: Sir Peter’s got a really long history of working with Liverpool. Of course he was one of the artists who was really associated with the Mersey Beat and he designed the front cover of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, which if you say to anyone in Liverpool everybody gets fantastically excited.

V2: There we are.

V3: Oh, thanks, Peter, that’s made me. Thank you very much.

V2: Well we’ve come here today to see a ferry that I’ve designed as a kind of dazzle boat.

Around 4000 ships were dazzled during the First World War. Dazzle camouflage was a mode of camouflage that was really developed by artists like Edward Wadsworth.

It very much relates to optical painting so the bright designs of black and white, and it was meant to confuse the enemy, that they didn’t know for instance which way the ship was going; they couldn’t tell which was the front and which was the back.

We used the idea of the original dazzle so we kept that consistent and then I added a kind of pop art element I suppose, and what was extraordinary was to design it on the computer and suddenly you come and see this great big wonderful thing. So we designed it on the computer and then we had to adapt to the actual physicality of the ferry. I mean the design we had was a side view so we had to think about that, but this is bigger than anything I’ve done before, far bigger.

I worked from colour charts and hoped that the actual colour matched the chart. Everywhere that’s brown becomes blue. Yes, this can then be the red. With red and blue, I mean as long as it was a pretty pure, bright red and a bright blue I would be satisfied, which they are, I mean they’re beautiful.

V1: So it’s been a really wonderful way of not only activating that history to the very broad public who will use the ferry on a daily basis, but also getting the people who have been working on the ferries and painting the boats to really feel that they’re part of something important as well.

V2: My work is now done and now it’s up to the boys to paint it. I think they’ve done a beautiful job and I’m really thrilled.

Find out more

Artist

Peter Blake

born 1932

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