Saturday 2 June 2018

Berrocal Mini Maria

Alternate title: Discovering a new rabbit hole…

I've been collecting puzzles for several years now and up until a couple of weeks ago I had managed to resist buying any Berrocals... frankly, it wasn't that hard - they're expensive and only seem to come up in art auctions where the prices can be eye-watering for a puzzler of limited means.  

Then things changed... no I didn't suddenly come into a large volume of cash; a couple of weeks ago Gill and I were fortunate to visit the Berrocal Foundation in Villanueva de Algaidas. 

We spent several hours listening to Carlos and Beltran talk about their dad’s work while wandering around the recreated workshop and studio – and it’s probably fair to say that we fell under their spell a little bit – in a good way. By the end of the tour Gill and I had decided that we should continue our tradition of bringing back a new piece of art from our holidays – and a mini Berrocal would class as art… we duly selected Mini Maria as the one most likely to fit in with the other stuff in the lounge and maxed out the credit card. (I hadn’t realised my friendly travel agent had just billed all our holidays for the rest of the year to the card on the same day!)

We headed back to the UK with Carlos promising to send Maria along behind us, and last Thursday I got home to find a large TNT box on the front porch waiting patiently for me. The packaging surprised me as most of the recent Mini multiples I’ve seen on art auction sites have come packaged in what I’d describe as an archive file box…and that’s what I’d expected – this one came in the full-blown original award-winning packaging.
Open the first box that’s nicely branded with the Berrocal multiples logo and a subtle Mini Maria emblem in the bottom corner and you’re faced with some nicely printed Mini Maria tissue paper (picture an A2 sheet with coloured pictures of the bits and a completed Mini Maria and you won’t go too far wrong!) cushioning the polystyrene innards – themselves styled after the completed Mini Maria… only a lot bigger!

Open the polystyrene casing and you find Mini Maria nestling in a moulded black plastic stand – complete with a little display plinth to use while you continue unpacking…lift that stand and beneath it you’ll find the instruction / background booklet that will help you take her apart (and reassemble her) while you read about her creation. Under the book there’s a moulded tray for laying out all of the parts neatly while she’s disassembled… a rather lovely surprise for someone who was literally expecting a carboard box!
Inside there are a couple of display stands -  a flat rectangle and a raised circle – you can choose how best to display her, however changing from one to the other requires full disassembly… you’re encouraged to take her apart and play with her bits… brilliant!

It doesn’t take long for me to fiddle around and dismantle her – it’s a pretty fun process, with some brilliant engineering, a solid locking piece and more than a little smut thrown in for good measure. 
Reassembly is decidedly non-trivial!
I resorted to putting together sub-assemblies and then collecting them into something that vaguely resembled the lovely little statue I’d started with. 

Several times I encountered a dead end and needed to back up a few steps, in order to introduce the appropriate piece at a more appropriate time. 

Things get easier as the pile of random shaped bits gets smaller and Maria begins to take shape. 
It’s fun experimenting with these wonderfully organic shapes, coaxing them into something bigger and beautiful. 

At the end of the day we have a wonderful little piece of puzzle history sitting on the mantlepiece in the lounge… the first puzzle allowed beyond the walls of the cave… and I got the warm fuzzy feeling that comes from supporting the Foundation established to looks after the artist’s legacy. 


  1. Hello Allard. Welcome to the world of Berrocal's Minis addicts! A sweet disease that nobody wants to be cured from - ever! My Favourite one is still Portrait de Michèle, but all are just as enjoyable. Save some money for the next ones, because you WILL want them too!

    1. Gee, thanks Lionel - I'm sure that's exactly what Gill wanted to read! ;-) [I suspect that Maria will be joined by some friends in due course...]

  2. I have this, Mini Maria, but it needs some minor re-assembling. Does any one have the puzzle instructions. Yes, I will gladly pay! Please let me know. Peter