Throughout the 1990s Robert Macdonald lived in an isolated cottage with no road access high in the hills overlooking the Usk Valley. His work became a meditation on the landscape, the farming life and also the legends of the Brecon Beacons area. Three years ago he became the first elected president of the Royal Watercolour Society of Wales and he is a past chair of the Welsh Group, the senior association of artists in Wales, and a director of the Swansea Print Workshop.
Before coming to Brecon he worked and painted for many years in London and his move to Wales, prompted by his Welsh-born wife Annie, was in a way a return to his own rural roots. Born in 1935, much of his early life was spent in rural communities, not in Wales but as a war-time evacuee on Somerset farms and, from the age of 10, in the New Zealand back country. His family emigrated to New Zealand in 1945 and lived on the Northland Peninsula where there was a considerable Maori presence. Maori carving as well as the mediaeval carvings he saw as a boy in Somerset churches were his earliest artistic interests.
Robert had a career as a Fleet Street journalist before giving up journalism to go as a mature student to the painting school of the Royal College of Art in 1976. He studied printmaking at the London Central School. He has shown in the Royal Academy and had his prints displayed in the European Parliament in Brussels as part of an exhibition of eight printmakers from Wales.