Object 18: Winter: Indoor Games: Jigsaw puzzles

MC.2015.121, MC138.92, MC21.2005 jigsaw puzzlesI’m in the ‘jigsaws are for Christmas not for life’ brigade but I was pleased to get jigsaws from 26’s Secret Santa swag bag.

One of the things I do is write the words on the walls in museums. So writing museum labels is familiar territory and a whole 62 words for a label is like a long lie in and a cup of coffee in bed.

I don’t know if it was the Christmas thing but I delayed opening the email attachment telling me about my object. Perhaps it’s the ever-present cautionary tale my mum told us every year about the time she looked for her presents… and found them, making for the worst Christmas ever. But I was in the pub and my resolve wavered…

I talked about jigsaws with a few friends and discovered they are genuinely divisive – real love it / loathe it territory. To my surprise, even the word provoked some genuinely hostile reactions from people obviously not convinced of their meditative charm or role as catalyst in a family psychodrama where the self-appointed jigsaw gang labour away during long winter days of sloth and too much TV, diverted only by the person, usually a deep jigsaw sceptic, who wafts in, slots in an elusive piece and wanders off again.

In the end, I went for fragmentation as my theme – a childhood memory of a puzzle where dislocated words resolved back into familiar form – Christmas hours spent poring over jigsaws of oil paintings – and the common experience of being compelled to complete the job but being ever so slightly disappointed when it’s done.


By Lucy Harland



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