In July, during a visit to Liverpool we saw the “Dazzle Ship” moored in the dry dock near the Albert Dock. During my visit to London this week, during a walk along the Southbank heading to Tate Modern, I spotted another one. The London Dazzle ship is moored west of Blackfriars Bridge. It’s a WW1 warship, HMS President, built in 1918 and has been painted by the German artist Tobias Rehberger.
Inspired by the Vorticist art movement, Dazzle wasn’t intended to conceal a ship but to confuse the enemy – to make it difficult for them to estimate its type, size, speed, and heading by disrupting their visual rangefinders.
Both ships have been “dazzled” as part of the commemoration of the start of the Great War. They’re not accurate represenatations, but a modern interpretation. The London one, in particular, painted in black and white rather than bright colours and with some figurative elements rather than random abstract patterns that were painted on the real ships.