In January 2015, a Mersey ferry was selected as a “dazzle ship”; with a unique new livery inspired by First World War dazzle camouflage. Designed by Sir Peter Blake and entitled “Everybody Razzle Dazzle”, seven ship painters spent 10 days covering “Snowdrop” in a myriad of colour.
The design takes its inspiration from the famous glaring colours and jagged lines of ‘dazzle’ camouflage, designed to confuse enemy U-boat captains. The geometrically patterned boats would have been a familiar sight during the First World War, when hundreds of shipping convoys sailed to and from Britain’s ports.
The artist’s connection with Liverpool goes back to 1961 when Blake won the “junior section” of prestigious Liverpool-based John Moores Painting Prize. He later recalled meeting the Liverpool poets at a party in the Adelphi Hotel at a time when the Beatles were honing their craft in Hamburg’s Star Club; they hadn’t broken and psychedelia was unheard of.
Six years later Blake along with Jann Haworth produced the iconic cover album for the Beatles “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club band”. Blake recalled of the concept: “I offered the idea that if they had just played a concert in the park, the cover could be a photograph of the group just after the concert with the crowd who had just watched the concert, watching them.” He added, “If we did this by using cardboard cut-outs, it could be a magical crowd of whomever they wanted.”
And Razzle Dazzle by the way, is an old (1955) song by Bill Haley and the Comets…