New commission for 'Conflict' at the 20-21 Gallery

framed jigsaws

jigsaw of fijian flag  jigsaw of jamaican flag

jigsaw of union jack Vexed takes the form of five jigsaw puzzles, and explores the complex ways in which the UK armed forces are involved in 21st century conflict.
Increasingly the British Army has relied on recruiting foreign nationals to fill gaps in the ranks, the two main contributing countries being Jamaica and Fiji (the Ghurkhas from Nepal, being a long established regiment of the British Army, are not considered to be foreign recruits).
Important current deployments of British troops include Iraq and Afghanistan, neither of which conflicts seem to have any prospect of simple or speedy resolution; the jigsaw metaphor is frequently used by correspondents and commentators when discussing these issues.
Each jigsaw represents the national flag of one of the parties in this interchange, and is made up from thousands of little pictures harvested from the internet by searching for maps of Iraq and Afghanistan, and for tourist images of Fiji and Jamaica. So for example the Jamaican flag is made up maps of Afghanistan, while the Iraqi flag is built from pictures of Fiji. The Union Jack is made up of images of 'stars and stripes' and references the uneasy relationship perceived by many people to exist between the UK and the US.
Originally it was intended that all five jigsaws would be completed, but in an example of art imitating life, Iraq an Afghanistan proved too difficult to piece together, and so their flags, like the countries, are seen in a state of disarray.

The title of the piece reflects the vexations of both jigsaw puzzles and international relations and refers to vexillology, the study of flags (from the Latin vexilla = "banner")

I am indebted to Sean Williams and Sandra Kemplen for their dedicated assistance in piecing together the puzzles.
jigsaw of afghan flag  jigsaw of iraqi flag
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