Are you (where you) enchanted by the medieval? The dresses, the sleeves, the headwear, the unicorns, elves and fairies?
I’ll admit it.
My latest jigsaw puzzle is, I think, designed for young ladies with just such a fascination. To be honest, I don’t think I gave the picture much of a look when I bought it. Unlike many puzzles, this one is not presented in its entirety on the lid. Instead, a section of the image is wrapped around like … wrapping paper. It just looked very orange, and the one I bought with it, very green.
Placing the pieces has been like wrapping myself in memories of a past whose romanticism I do not wish to see return.
The image is of a number of young women in an idealised garden of creatures real and imagined. What struck me on this occasion was the paradox. The preoccupation with winged horses, beautiful peacocks and cherubic fairies is not simply a form of nostalgia or childhood fantasy. Instead, these idealised creatures represent a desire to escape. The flowing dresses and awkward headwear limit and constrain. Even jewellery alters how we move.
The image appears in a triptych. Each of the three panels is bordered by a vertical pattern that divides and cages.
In this photographic series, I select a number of pieces from a puzzle and re-assemble them. This requires some creative effort when each piece is unique. The aim is to distil something of the experience of this particular puzzle. There is no rule that the fun should stop when the last piece is placed.
It’s a Djeco puzzle called “Unicorn garden”, beautifully illustrated by Agata Kawa. It was a delight to assemble and I rarely looked at the full-sized print that came in the box, presumably for framing.