Embarkation On A Dazzle Ship
Henningham Family Press
61cm x 94cm
Embarkation On A Dazzle Ship is the fourth of four screenprint limited editions that mark the First World War Centenary in 2014. These were commissioned for sale as limited edition screenprints and for reproduction as colour plates in a replica of the Active Service Gospel.
The sailor embarking on a dazzle ship is surrounded by the disorienting effect of camouflage, which in all these pictures stands for deception. Note how the same blue circles look different in tone when surrounded by white or black. The sailor has been brought here by words promoting conflict, and is now examining more words that are trying to lay claim to him. The form of his uniform extends the influence of the camouflage onto his own body, but his unkempt appearance shows that his own identity is fighting back. He signed up once, will he sign up again? This picture is about the threshold of faith.
Our colour plates introduce the legacy of the First World War into a document that lived in the trenches. The tragedy of WW1 is absent from its pages because it unfolded around them. SGM asked us to reference the Modernist artwork of the time, exploring the tension between Vorticist individualism and Futurist machine-worship.
We found the Scripture Gift Mission story as interesting as it is moving. Their tradition of offering gospels without any social agenda attached, to anyone who wants or needs one, allowed them to mass produce words of comfort and encouragement without partiality, during a war where words had already been slain by mass-produced propaganda. A staggering 42 million Active Service Gospels were made, a testament to the demand. Some were accepted gladly, others with derision, and some with derision that became devotion. The trenches were a place where some lost faith and others found it. The story of the Active Service Gospel is a little-known history, one that highlights the fact that nothing that comes off a printing press is neutral.
A SGM Lifewords commission
Read more about the project here