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The Camouflage Suite

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Cambridge (printed and published)

  • Date:

    2004 (printed and published)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Dixon, Jane (artist)
    Gresham, Kip (printer)
    artHester (publisher)
    The Print Studio, Cambridge Ltd. (printer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Screenprint on Somerset paper

  • Credit Line:

    Purchased through the Julie and Robert Breckman Print Fund. Copyright Jane Dixon

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level D, case LP, shelf 34

Jane Dixon is a painter and printmaker. Much of her work to date has focussed on machines and structures that contain and protect the human body. This series showing tanks is a natural progression from earlier drawings showing contraptions such as iron lungs and Victorian steam-baths, and later series which depicted pieces of armour and chain-mail. [see Untitled [Gauntlets], 2000]

In this series Dixon is clearly interested in the nature of perception and in optical illusion, and camouflage is an effective vehicle for this exploration. Tanks and armoured vehicles are often camouflaged, by painting them with abstract patterns, or by veiling them with nets and attaching natural materials - mud, sand, leaves - or mirrors - to break up the outline and deceive the eye. In these prints the solid mass of the tanks is transformed into a fragile shimmering skin. They not only represent the gap between seeing and believing, but they also become metaphors for the precariousness of strength, and for the inherent vulnerability of the body beneath its armoured carapace. A sense of scale is deliberately excluded - these could be models, or life-size. They could even be citadels, turreted and defended, or abandoned ruins of a lost civilisation - and read in this way they offer an oblique comment on the futility of territorial ambition and war. They also make us think of natural forms such as shells, termite mounds, wasps nests because they seem to grow from their surroundings. In the ways they are drawn it is as if the marks themselves have collided and coalesced to build an organic structure.

Dixon made these prints during a fellowship at Kettle's Yard in Cambridge where she produced her own artworks but also curated an exhibition, 'Solid State: Reflecting on the Real', which stimulated her experiments with images of optical illusions, and an exploration of ambiguity in reality and in representation. They have connections with photography too, and Dixon has often used photographic negatives as starting points for developing her imagery; she likes the way in which negatives make the familiar strange and somehow disembody solid objects. The four prints in the Camouflage Suite [E.144 to 147-2005] read as two negatives and two positives. They also make an interesting connection with other artists' representations of camouflage, notably the prints and drawings made by Edward Wadsworth (1889-1949) which show ships painted with 'dazzle' camouflage during World War I.

Physical description

A landscape format print showing a tank depicted in a fragmented semi-abstract manner

Place of Origin

Cambridge (printed and published)


2004 (printed and published)


Dixon, Jane (artist)
Gresham, Kip (printer)
artHester (publisher)
The Print Studio, Cambridge Ltd. (printer)

Materials and Techniques

Screenprint on Somerset paper

Marks and inscriptions

'13/20 Jane Dixon '04'
Edition number; Signed and dated
All in pencil


Height: 63.3 cm sheet, Width: 78 cm sheet, Height: 42 cm plate, Width: 59 cm plate

Descriptive line

Etching, 'Camouflage II (Second State)' from 'The Camouflage Suite' series, by Jane Dixon and published by artHester, Cambridge, 2004

Subjects depicted

Tank; Camouflage




Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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