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Cammell Laird team starts work on Dazzle Ship

Painters from world famous shipyard and engineering services company Cammell Laird have started work today on Dazzle Ship, a co-commission by Liverpool Biennial, Tate Liverpool and 14-18 NOW WW1 Centenary Art Commission to work with the idea of “dazzle” camouflage using an historic pilot ship conserved by Merseyside Maritime Museum.


Renowned artist Carlos Cruz-Diez has been commissioned to ‘dazzle’ the “Edmund Gardner” situated in dry dock adjacent to Liverpool’s Albert Dock.

The ship will be seen during the International Festival for Business and will be accompanied by a display exploring the history of Dazzle Ships and the role of artists in the First World War.

The design created by Carlos Cruz-Diez will be realised by a team from Birkenhead based Cammell Laird.

CEO John Syvret said: “Cammell Laird is steeped in naval history and played a key role in the First World War. We feel honoured to help commemorate the occasion by ‘dazzling’ the Edmund Gardner. The project provides a meaningful way for Cammell Laird to reflect on the immense contribution the company made to the country during the war years.

The newly dazzled Edmund Gardner will create an important and thought provoking public monument for Merseyside and the wider UK.

We are also very pleased to support the Liverpool Biennial in its efforts to encourage visitors and investment to the region.”

During World War One Cammell Laird completed work on nine battleships, 60 cruisers, 100 British and 95 United States destroyers, eight submarines, 123 armed merchant vessels and 107 merchant ships.  The Cunard passenger liner Campania and the Isle of Man Steam Packet Co steamer Ben-My-Chree were also converted at Cammell Laird into the first seaplane carriers for the Royal Navy.DSC_7229

Dazzle painting was a system for camouflaging ships that was introduced in early 1917, at a time when German submarines were threatening to cut off Britain’s trade and supplies. The idea was not to “hide” the ships, but to paint them in such a way that their appearance was optically distorted, so that it was difficult for a submarine to calculate the course the ship was travelling on, and so know from what angle to attack. The “dazzle” was achieved by painting the ship in contrasting stripes and curves that broke up its shape. Characterised by garish colours and a sharp patchwork design of interlocking shapes, the spectacular ‘dazzle’ style was heavily indebted to Cubism.

Carlos Cruz-Diezis one of the great figures of contemporary art, especially kinetic-optic art. His works can be found in the permanent collections of Museum of Modern Art, New York; Tate Modern, London; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Cologne.

In addition to Cammell Laird, Liverpool based organisation Weightmans is also supporting Dazzle Ship.

Dan Cutts, senior partner explains why: “Weightmans is delighted to support the Liverpool Biennial as part of the International Festival of Business this year. We are pleased to be involved in the celebration of art and culture that it brings to the North West. As a firm with a strong heritage in the maritime industry, we are particularly proud to be involved in the launch of the ‘Dazzle Ship’ project, and its profound connections with WW1. “


First World War Centenary Partnership Programme

14-18 NOW is a member of the First World War Centenary Partnership and is an independent programme hosted within Imperial War Museums.

The First World War Centenary Partnership was established by IWM (Imperial War Museums) in 2010 and to date has over 2,500 members from across 45 countries. The Partnership is presenting a collective programme of activities and events to mark the centenary, developed at grass roots levels. This diverse and far-reaching programme has been developed to reflect how people want to remember, commemorate and debate the conflict in their own communities, in a way that is meaningful for them. is the official website for the First World War Centenary Partnership. Throughout the centenary new events and activities will be added each week to the events calendar, produced in partnership with Culture 24.


Cruz-Diez is one of the great figures of kinetic-optic art. His art proposal, one of the most original of that movement, reveals him as one of the last colour. His research is based on three chromatic conditions: subtractive, additive and reflected, and has brought art a new way of understanding the phenomenon of colour, greatly expanding its perceptual universe.

Cruz-Diez’s work revolves around colour conceived as an autonomous reality, progressing in space and real time without past or future – in a perpetual present. In his works, colour appears as a reality that can exist without the help of traditional form.

Cruz-Diez´s works are in the permanent collections of institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York; Tate, London; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Musée d´Art Contemporain de Montreal; Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Cologne; and the Musée d´Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris.

About Liverpool Biennial

Liverpool Biennial is an ongoing platform for research, commissioning and presenting international art, education and debate.  Every two years, the Biennial festival brings an international focus to our work. It is the moment when the world comes to Liverpool to engage with our thinking and we present art to the world.

Liverpool Biennial 2014: The UK Biennial of Contemporary Art

Saturday 5th July – Sunday 26th October

International art that unfolds across Liverpool’s spaces, places and galleries.

The 8th Liverpool Biennial exhibition explores art in everyday life and is curated by Mai Abu ElDahab and Anthony Huberman. It takes place across the city at venues including public spaces and galleries such as the Bluecoat, FACT and Tate Liverpool. Also featured in Liverpool Biennial 2014 are the Bloomberg New Contemporaries, the John Moores Painting Prize and shows at the Open Eye Gallery and LJMU’s Exhibition Research Centre, while newly commissioned artworks interact with the urban landscape.

This is also a chance to see work by artists and curators in solo and group exhibitions and performances throughout the city, ranging from the Royal Standard to the Walker Art Gallery.

Cammell Laird background

Cammell Laird is one of the most famous names in British industry with roots tracing back to their early 19th Century.

The business is located on the River Mersey, in the Liverpool City Region, on the West Coast of England. It is in the centre of a marine cluster, with direct access to many support services. It has a 120 acre site with four dry docks, a non-tidal wet basin, large modular construction hall and extensive covered workshops.

Cammell Laird specialises in military ship refit, commercial ship repair, upgrade and conversion and heavy fabrication and engineering. It deals with a wide variety of projects ranging from specialist offshore conversions and fabrication, commercial ship-repair through to the refit and upgrade of highly complex naval auxiliaries. It has also recently re-entered the ship-building market.

The business is further active in the energy sector. It has become a hub of the off shore wind industry and it is offering its facilities and highly trained workforce of engineers for work in the civil nuclear sector and the off shore oil and gas sector.