The Great War Fund: Dazzle Ship ‘Elektra’

As a result of funding from the Great War Fund, Jersey artist Ian Rolls painted his largest blank canvas to date… a 1953/4 ex-US Army tugboat. The tugboat ‘Elektra’, which is moored in St. Helier’s Harbour, was transformed into a Dazzle Ship by Rolls to commemorate the Centenary of the First World War.

The States World War One Centenary Working Group granted the Fund to ArtHouse Jersey in 2015 as part of the Island’s official commemorations of the centenary of the First World War. ArtHouse Jersey would receive and distribute £10,000 a year, on behalf of the Centenary Working Group for the next three years, to fund arts and community projects that reflect on or commemorate the First World War.



Tugboat ‘Elektra’

The design was an original scheme devised specifically for the ‘Elektra’ by Ian Rolls, who is well established as one of Jersey’s most experienced and versatile artists.

Ian’s concept was based on distorting form, a consistent theme in his work, so that the tugboat appears crumpled with strong linear elements, reinforcing the play of light and dark to create false planes. A single red line descends in a twisting spiral from the funnel, wraps itself around the vessel and dips below the waterline to merge with the solid red of the lower hull. The symbolism of sinking ships, but conversely the rising out of the red field of war to a higher place, is implicit. The design is an uplifting mark of remembrance for all those lost beneath the waves during the Great War.

Ian said: “I am hugely excited at the prospect of transforming what was a rusting tugboat into a Dazzling landmark for Jersey. It is difficult to imagine the full effect the Dazzle design will have once completed, but I am expecting it to make a few heads spin!”

Tom Dingle, Director of ArtHouse Jersey, said: “We’re delighted to be able to support Ian realise this visionary project. Art is a great way to reflect and explore a subject matter in more depth than we might otherwise do in our daily lives. We hope that beyond it being visually interesting in itself, the dazzle ship will become a physical reminder of the extents that our naval forces went to protect our interests and a symbol of the collective bravery, sacrifice and dare I say ingenuity, of all of our troops past and present.

We would encourage others who may have their own ideas about how to reflect and commemorate the Great War either through art or community activities to come forward and discuss them with us.”