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Featured artist Barbara Zalecki

Barbara Zalecki’s prints of animals, sumo wresters and flowers are full of character, movement and patterns. We talk to her about her featured artist exhibition, which is on at the gallery until April 3, alongside our group show.

A handmade print of a cat yawning at the sun
"Dawn Yawning", hand-finished drypoint etching by Barbara Zalecki

What can visitors expect to see at your featured artist show?

The prints I’ve put in the featured artist show are mostly animals and they are quite big.

How did you make them?

They are drypoint etchings, hand-finished in colour with printing ink. I do drypoint (incising lines to hold ink with a drypoint needle or tool) on aluminium plates. I used to work with acid on copper or steel, but I don’t have the facilities to do that these days, so my style has had to adapt. I work in my shed in the garden.

Handmade print of zebras
"Zebra Crossing", hand-finished drypoint etching by Barbara Zalecki

What draws you to make prints of animals? How do you choose which animals to make prints about?

I do like patterns, so I tend to choose animals with patterns – zebras, a tiger, a giraffe, a ram with patterns on his horns. They are a little bit graphic. I suppose that comes from my illustration background. I just like animals, and the shapes they make. I do make prints of other things as well, but even with my prints of sumo wrestlers, it’s because I like the shapes and the patterns they make during their stances.

Etching of sumo wrestlers
"Sumo Wrestlers", etching by Barbara Zalecki
A handmade print of a tiger under a glowing moon
"Tiger Moon", hand-finished drypoint etching by Barbara Zalecki

Your work is colourful, but also quite minimalist in the use of colour. How do you come up with the colours you use? Do you aim to go for colours that contrast well?

When I work, I go almost on a different plane - it’s very instinctive. When I step back and look at what I’ve done, I think, I wonder why I did that or why I chose that? It’s not something that’s pre-planned, it’s very spontaneous and instinctive. It’s hard to put into words. I suppose they are almost like posters, very graphic colours and shapes, which must be the illustration side filtering through, although they are all handmade prints.

A handmade print of a ram with patterned horns
"Ram", hand-finished drypoint etching by Barbara Zalecki

You work in other mediums as well as printmaking, don’t you?

Yes, I work in watercolour, and I make Tiffany-style mirrors and lamps. I also make animal portraits in aluminium or copper-foiled glass.

Handmade print of donkeys
"Krystyna's Donkeys", hand-finished drypoint etching by Barbara Zalecki

Barbara’s featured artist show is at Greenwich Printmakers until April 3, and her characterful prints are available at the gallery all year round. For more information, see her artist’s page.


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