Artist Lisa Traxler. Photo: Julian Winslow

Newport’s Quay Arts Centre is set to unveil a new exhibition, drawing inspiration from historical Dazzle camouflage and its relationship to the Island’s maritime heritage.

Taking over three gallery spaces, Dazzle + Disrupt showcases the work of two emerging contemporary artists working in the South. Delayed for almost a year since the first lockdown in 2020, Dazzle + Disrupt is a much-anticipated exhibition of 2021, with works by artists Jeannie Driver and Lisa Traxler focusing on themes of perception, disorientation and disruption.

Dazzle was invented in 1917 by marine artist Norman Wilkinson. Wilkinson’s ‘Dazzle’ designs were used to disrupt and disorientate German U-boats at sea during the First World War by painting British and Allied ships in striking geometric patterns. By the end of the First World War thousands of merchant ships and hundreds of naval vessels had been ‘Dazzled’ in what constituted the world’s largest public art and design display.

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The masterful and dazzling effect this had on its onlooker – questioned where they were positioned, its scale, its shape and distance, with the ‘unknown’ aspect drawing comparisons to the current emotions towards the pandemic and feelings of isolation and the unknown in 2020 and 2021.

The new commissions form the main exhibition in the West Gallery with sculptural works, film, installations and wall murals, while the adjacent Clayden Gallery provides information on the story of Dazzle, together with the artist’s preparatory works, revealing their creative processes through sketchbooks, maquettes and research notes, as well as response works made by Gurnard Primary school.

Unlocking online tomorrow (27th March), the exhibition will include interviews with the artists, talking about their process and preparation for the exhibition; a 360 virtual tour of the gallery; slideshows of 2D works for sale, as well as more information to come, such as online resources and more talks and a book launch with the artists.

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