The weekend between two international trips is always a compressed amount of time: by the time i’ve unpacked, sorted the washing, and packed again, i have to make some choices, and this week, the choice was to work on my Christmas cards. I like to print these on lino, carving out a design, inking it up, and using the roller to lay the design onto a blank card. I love lino printing because it’s quick, it’s easy, and it lets you achieve some fun effects. But i invariably make mistakes.
The usual one is to get letters backwards, or an element of the picture facing the wrong way: this is easier to do than you may expect, because when you cut the lino, naturally, you have to cut the mirror image. You have to write anything, or plan the angle of anything, in reverse.
When you think about it, this is obvious, but the effects can be subtle: for example, i will often write a letter, correctly, backwards, but forget that i also need to write the following letter to the left, not the right. And still backwards…
I was thinking about this today, when talking about stories of difference and dissent. Logically, we understand the opposite view. But it can be hard to articulate, and harder to truly see. There is a gap between understanding, and experience.
The mirroring of the image does not simply mean that writing is backwards: it means that the composition is too, and when you change the composition, strange effects emerge. A curved line that looked correct in one direction, can look somehow odd in another. Small effects, but they conspire to make something unreal.
We become very accustomed to the side of the mirror that we tell our stories from: to view the mirror image, to draw the other side, can be both disconcerting, and hard.