The National Gallery of Victoria was selling small jigsaws in the souvenir shop. 54 pieces in each. Of all the artwork reproduced in jigsaw format, these two seem right at home.
Rosalie Gascoigne built her creative endeavours from found materials. Some of her works are now very easily recognised as a “Gascoigne”, so much so that young artists often attempt an “After Gascoigne”. I saw a couple of TV documentaries about Rosalie, which prepared me for seeing the real thing at the National Gallery of Australia here in Canberra. It is as if her assemblages and constructions are saying to me, and me in particular, “Your experience matters, and this is how much it matters; it is art”. I have a similar response to Fred Williams’ paintings.
I hadn’t heard of Ralph Balson until I picked up the NGV jigsaw. He was the first to hold an exhibition of abstract paintings in Australia. 1941. Like Rosalie, there is an obvious construction to his paintings (some are even called Construction). Unlike Rosalie, he rejected the particularity of place. I’ve yet to see a piece up close.
This is the first in a new series of photographs I’m calling “Mini Jigsaws”. It’s a pragmatic title that I seem to be trying to justify; it doesn’t feel “arty” enough? “Mini” refers not to the source jigsaws but to the small constructions I’m proposing to create from a few select pieces.
The series was created, in part, to celebrate the jigsaw but, more importantly, value-add to the process that is the jigsaw puzzle. Who says it has to end when the last piece is placed!
For more information on these artists
Of course, you can find examples of their work on the internet by searching on each name, but also check out the following:
Rosalie Gascoigne – The NGV has a schools kit that is a great introduction regardless of your age.
Ralph Balson – The Australian Dictionary of Biography has additional information that might be interesting.