Westbury printmaker Bec Donaldson finds mystery etched into metal

When Westbury artist Bec Donaldson starts etching into metal, she knows her new print will be a lovely surprise.

Pressing the inked plate onto paper, she has a “hold your breath moment” before the big reveal.

“You have to reverse on the plate whatever you want to see.”

If reversing images did not come naturally to your brain, it meant every print could change.

If she created ‘ghost’ impressions by using the remaining ink on a print plate, Donaldson said it was still a process of trial and error even after studying a two-year printmaking diploma.

“To me, printmaking has a mystery and a sense of another time about it."

Printmaker Bec Donaldson

Her passion for printmaking was discovered when she returned to Tasmania after living in Western Australia.

She was drawn to prints whenever she visited a gallery in the state and then decided to pursue her interest more formally.

“I thought it was elegant and beautiful.”

Undertaking the diploma in Hobart, Donaldson met other artists in the area who were interested in pursuing the discipline.

She uses Rebecca Wood as her art name to avoid confusion as she is also a wildlife biologist.

Donaldson is not new to the art world.

She has been drawing since she was a child and has dabbled in painting.

Now Donaldson is also involved in organising and curating exhibitions.

Each of the artists involved delved into history to find a story of passion to inspire their works, she said.

The group exhibition, which she curated, developed her love of combining stories and printmaking.

Audiences were drawn to stories as they could create evocative works, she said.

The array of printmaking techniques meant the artworks had a graphic and illustrative quality which could highlight the tales and history weaved into them, she said.

“I love the simplicity and the physicality of traditional printmaking.”

A huge press was used to transfer the image from a carved print to paper, Donaldson said.

It wasn’t just a physical workout.

Creating prints worked her mind as she searched for stories to inspire her art.

Each plate took about a day to etch before it was ready to print from.

Donaldson started out with a sketch, which she drew onto the metal plate.

She then spent a couple of hours in the printing studio to produce each print.

It could be a lengthy process if ideas didn’t spark quickly, but that wasn’t an issue she usually had, Donaldson said.

“To me, printmaking has a mystery and a sense of anther time about it."