The Jigsaw 

Oil on board 

60 X 50cm 


This work depicts my mother Diana, 83, doing a jigsaw with my son, 11.  

The images on the jigsaw pieces are the few photos that we have of Diana’s mother, brother and father Sgt. Phillip Brain, an RAF engineer who was killed aged 27 in WW2 (himself the son of a Gallipoli survivor). 

Subsequent to his death, my mother’s life changed unimaginably – the toddler siblings were separated and did not reconnect until their late 70s. 

As with those trying to complete a jigsaw, my mother has spent much of her life trying to piece together her life story from scraps of information – faded photos, other people’s memories; trying to fill the giant hole left by the untimely death of a father.  

War children carry the grief and the sense of responsibility to share the story.  Three generations are present in the painting. I am the fourth absent but loud voice, trying to make visible the generational trauma of war. 

The jigsaw is incomplete; can never be fully pieced together. But in many ways as Diana sits with her grandson Sam, talking about her father Phillip, there is a sense of closure.