Thoughts on Dorothea

Updated 1st February – first designs for this city.

This post relates to my print series project based on Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities.

Updated 1st February 2023

My design for this print is now almost ready to for cutting. I’ve run with the idea of Dorothea existing as a treasured memory for the mysterious visitor, and represented it as an apparition within a precious stone. The caravan routes and desert flowers complete the scene.

Photograph of a linocut design drawn in ink on lino. The image shows a desert at night with desert flowers, and a hand extends to show a large gemstone, within which can be seen a memory of the city of Dorothea
The completed design, barring a few modes refinements
Close up of Saffron flower details

January 29th 2023

Pencil and pen sketch of a regular gemstone, not unlike a quartz crystal with many facets. Visible within the crystal are the towers, pinnacles, domes and domestic buildings of a small city
A gemstone recollection

Short as it is I won’t quote the page here, but Dorothea can – we are told – be described in two ways. The first paints a picture of the form and grandeur of the place, the relationships that form between families, and suggests this is all we need to know to understand the past, present and future of the city.

The latter is a tale from a visitor, charmed by Dorothea’s difference in youth, who in age recalls Dorothea as a missed opportunity, or an unheeded call, to a more vibrant life.

The former suggest to me the pride of the city, the relationships people form internally through marriage, trade, or both.

The latter suggests Dorothea appeared to offer promise, but perhaps for all that promise it was not easily attainable. Our visitor chose a different path. Perhaps seeing clearly at the time that the past, present and future of Dorothea was a precious, but impenetrable gem.

Perhaps in age the memory shines brighter, the reality is obscured. This is one of Calvino’s Cities and Desire stories. Memorialised desire has a habit of outshining the joys we’ve experienced.

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