The World of James Joyce: A Jigsaw Puzzle by Michael Kirkham

Research output: Non-textual formArtefact


'The World of James Joyce' is a jigsaw which maps 'Ulysses’ events onto the city of Dublin circa 1904. Published by Laurence King to mark the book’s centenary, my contribution is the research, development, and execution of a detailed, faithful and engaging image featuring over one hundred specific references to the text.

The work is part of my long-term investigation into how contradictory scales and perspectives can be dynamically combined to describe interconnected experiences and spaces. Proto-Renaissance and Mughal and Persian miniatures inform and inspire this approach as do contemporary forms such as cinema, computer games and Google Maps. This piece of research uses Joyce’s seminal book as a framework to explore the question “If a city is simultaneously a massive infrastructure complex, and a web of human-scale interactions, then what does it look like?” Joyce’s formal approach to the writing was another key inspiration for the arrangement of the imagery.

This work represents the first step into the use of games as a vehicle for my ideas. It revealed their potential to provide new opportunities for engagement, entwining the audience’s physicality and imagination with their experience of the work.

Ulysses is, in the popular imagination, considered synonymous with ‘difficult’. A significant aspect of the research was developing a vision of the book which was free from this connotation. A crucial moment in clarifying this objective came when listening to sections of RTÉ's spoken word version with my 9 year old son. I was thrilled by the joy he took in the book's language and humour when unburdened by any assumption of its weight, significance and difficulty. I endeavoured to take the same attitude with the picture.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherLaurence King
Publication statusPublished - 3 Feb 2022


  • Jigsaw
  • Ulysses
  • Dublin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts


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