Nanda Wijesekera’s exhibition, "Pieces", held at
Gandara Gallery on the 27th-28th May is a collection of such
puzzles. While the subject matter straddles the spectrum from
art and architecture to people and nature, the puzzles
themselves range from 500 piece woodcuts like "Devon Express" to
a mammoth 5000 piece epics like "Westminister at Noon." The
collection includes a glow-in-the-dark photo of Malaysia’s twin
towers and a highly complex double sided puzzle featuring
While the intricate puzzles engage the soul, the
unusual ones capture the imagination. There’s the "Impossi-puzzle"
featuring a myriad Winnie the Poohs in similar, but unidentical
poses. Each piece looks virtually the same, making its
completion a masterclass in perseverence.
Then there’s the "Siege of Troy" starring a cast
of a thousand cartoon Greeks and Trojans. Hidden amidst the
chaos is popular character Wally. At next weekend’s exhibition,
prizes will be awarded to whoever locates Wally and guesses the
correct number of Poohs.
But what truly fascinates has very little to do
with what we see. Each jigsaw takes an average 30 hours to
complete. It is a painstaking process requiring method,
intuition, patience and mental stillness. Through the outlines
of the shapes, we can see the passing of the hours, the moment
of creative immersion; when the world evaporates and craft and
craftsperson become one.
The act of creation is nothing new to Nanda
Wijesekera. One time Sri Lanka Badminton champion and Vice
Principal of a leading Colombo girl’s school, her time outside
family has always been engaged in artistic endeavours like bead
work, knitting, costume design, needlework and in the solving of
puzzles. "Pieces" is a tribute to a lifelong hobby that
eventually became a passion.
While one cannot help but marvel at the range of
style and subject, it is the attention to detail that truly
evokes awe. A labour of love best suited to Ms Wijesekera’s keen
memory, methodical temperament and calm sensibility.
Its pursuit has enabled her to overcome personal
tragedy and failing eyesight. And to triumph. Each picture is
more than a collection of pieces. Each picture is a goal
attained and a challenge conquered.
Jigsaw puzzles provide both therapy and mental
stimulation. Forming, in an era of shrinking attention spans, a
far more holistic path to relaxation than inane TV shows and
violent computer games. They grant us the means of passing time
and transcending it. And gift us the magic of a thousand jagged
pieces, arranged with love, to form a thing of real beauty .