Calculated Illusion.

Those scant few colours of the ships disguised for warfare beyond the arctic circle lend a patterned, stylised simplicity to their purpose.  War-paint for sea-cutting hulls of steel.  Fragile shells against both the elements and Man’s violences.  Now the patterns become an aggressive form of representing dis-order; an affective means to portray an awareness of our current environment.

From pg. 33 of H.M.S. Ulysses (Maclean, 1979):

“Where the Ulysses went, there also went death.  But Death never touched her. She was a lucky ship. A lucky ship and a ghost ship and the Arctic was her home.
Illusion of course, this ghostliness, but a calculated illusion. The Ulysses was designed specifically for one task, for one ocean, and the camouflage experts had done a marvellous job.  The special Arctic camouflage, the broken, slanting diagonals of grey and white and washed-out blues merged beautifully, imperceptibly into the infinite shades of grey and white, the cold, bleak grimness of the barren northern seas.”

So begins an exploration of possible patterns the fictional H.M.S. Ulysses might have worn.

Panels from various sources depicting Arctic camouflage for naval vessels.

Panels from various sources depicting Arctic camouflage for naval vessels.

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