Last week I had the pleasure of attending an event upon the HMS President in London to celebrate the launch of a new commission by artist Tobias Rehberger. As part of 14-18 NOW, the official cultural programme to commemorate the centenary of World War One.
What is dazzle paint?
‘Dazzle’ paint is a method used extensively during WW1 to help camouflage ships coming into the UK, making it difficult for the enemy to target the ship accurately. Obviously it’s pretty much impossible to hide a ship completely so instead dazzle paint was used to confused the enemy so that they couldn’t figure out what course the ship was travelling on. The ‘dazzle’ effect was achieved by painting contrasting curves and lines on the ship to break up its shape and outline.
What’s this got to do with the HMS President?
The HMS President was the first type of warship built specifically for anti-submarine warfare and was originally camouflaged by dazzle paint in the same way. To commemorate the centenary of the First World War, 14-18 NOW have teamed up with Chelsea College of Art and Design and Liverpool Biennel in association with HMS President and Tate Liverpool to create some works inspired by ‘dazzle’ paint. They enlisted the help of leading German artist Tobias to help them decorate the HMS President in London. He created a design that reveals the interior of the ship on the outside of it. His design was printed onto vinyl and then carefully stuck onto the ship. This has been incredibly well done as unless if you look very, very closely at the boat do you realise that the ship itself hasn’t been painted.
Firstly, because it’s pretty damn cool! Even if you don’t go aboard the ship, you simply must make time to take a stroll down Victoria Embankment to check out the exterior of the boat. It’s located pretty much opposite Temple station and from this point you can see loads of London landmarks such as The London Eye, the OXO Tower, Big Ben etc.
What is there to do on board?
I was lucky enough to get a tour of the ship and it’s a pretty damn cool space. You can hire it out for events such as weddings, birthdays etc. as they’re a large function room that is beautifully decorated and it even leads out onto a piece of decking from which there are absolutely spectacular views (see right). You can get afternoon tea, you can hire out a meeting room for your business, you can rent an office – whether it’s work or play, you can find what you’re looking for on the HMS President. As of yesterday they also opened a river bar (the grand opening is tomorrow if you’re in London), which is pretty cool. I had a drink on board when I visited and the setting is just so nice, perfect for catch up drinks or a date.
Are there any similar boats out there?
Yes, yes there are! 14-18 NOW have commissioned two other dazzle paint exhibitions in Liverpool, both of which are considerably more colourful than the one we have in London. Check ’em out:
All in all, this is a pretty cool attraction in London that had completely passed me by until now. This ship makes for a perfect place to either work or relax. During the day time this would make for a different and professional working space, but at night this venue has the potential to make a really special evening. The dazzle paint exterior is just a bonus ontop of all of this. This new design will be around for a while, but I wouldn’t waste any time getting down to London to check it out.
Want to find out more?
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