Peter Blake Launches Razzle Dazzle Ship In Liverpool

Peter Blake

The  First World War Centenary Art Commissions and Tate Liverpool have launched ‘Everybody Razzle Dazzle’, Sir Peter Blake’s ‘dazzle’ commission, in partnership with Merseytravel and National Museums Liverpool.

This is third in the series of Dazzle Ship commissions, following Induction Chromatique à Double Fréquence pour l’Edmund Gardner Ship / Liverpool. Paris 2014 by Carlos Cruz-Diez on the Liverpool Waterfront, and Tobias Rehberger’s Dazzle Ship London on the River Thames. 

The Mersey Ferry Snowdrop is the only moving vessel in the UK to be dazzled by a contemporary artist. Sir Peter’s design entitled Everybody Razzle Dazzle covers the passenger vessel with a distinctive pattern that will be seen for the next two years, as it continues its commuter service, River Explorer and Manchester Ship Canal Cruises.

Sir Peter Blake said: ‘I’ve had a long association with Liverpool over the years and I’m honoured and excited to have been asked to design a dazzle image for the iconic Mersey Ferry. This has to be my largest art work to date and it is very exciting to see how the painters at Cammell Laird have executed my design.’

Sir Peter Blake (b. 1932) is a leading figure in the development of British pop art and his work is synonymous with the use of imagery from modern culture, including comic books, consumer goods and advertisements. During his career he developed strong links with Liverpool and first visited the city during his National Service with the RAF (1951 – 53). His training required that he travel to Belfast, so he sailed by ferry from Liverpool’s iconic waterfront. Highly evocative of Sir Peter’s signature pop art style, the design is based on his use of and interest in colour, monochrome and shape.

Unlike other forms of camouflage, dazzle works not by concealing but by baffling the eye, making it difficult to estimate a target’s range, speed and direction. Artist Norman Wilkinson, credited with inventing the technique, explained that dazzle was intended primarily to mislead the enemy; each ship’s dazzle pattern, realised in monochrome and colour, was unique in order to avoid making classes of ships instantly recognisable to enemy U- boats and aircraft. 

As well as being a moving artwork, visitors who board the Snowdrop will learn more about the history of dazzle and the role that the Mersey Ferries took in the First World War in a display developed by curators from National Museums Liverpool and Tate Liverpool. An integrated education programme underpins the project and includes a free digital resource for schools available from Families and groups are invited over spring and summer to participate in dazzle-related events. This includes a day on the Ferry on 26 April 2015, inviting people to share their memories and bring objects connected to Liverpool’s maritime history, and an afternoon of costume and prop making on 6 June 2015 at Tate Liverpool, inspired by the Great Dazzle Ball in 1919. 

Everybody Razzle Dazzle, the accompanying display and the education programme have been funded through Arts Council England’s Exceptional Awards, which aims to fund projects that deliver great art for everyone.

Everybody Razzle Dazzle is commissioned by Liverpool Biennial, 14-18 NOW: First World War Centenary Art Commissions and Tate Liverpool in partnership with Merseytravel, who own and operate Mersey Ferries, and National Museums Liverpool (Merseyside Maritime Museum). Supported by Arts Council England’s Exceptional Awards programme, National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund and Department for Culture Media and Sport. 

Everybody Razzle Dazzle will be sailing during the city’s One Magnificent City programme which is a celebration of the city’s internationally renowned maritime history and transatlantic links.


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