More About the Artist
Alison Archbold has a long and varied set of artistic and creative skills which she has developed from a young age. In her teens and early twenties, Alison started creating handmade jewellery, which was sold in her Mothers shop “Decadence” in Canberra in the mid 80’s. In 1990, Alison enrolled in an art class which would become the catalyst for her future career. After completing the basic course, she was asked to become a teacher, and was soon teaching painting, and hand painting ceramics. Next she bought a kiln for her home studio and started producing hand painted ceramic wares, revamped furniture pieces and various other artworks. Teaching classes from her home studio, Artisan Art and Craft Centre, Creative Habitat Ceramics Studio and occasionally from community centres, things were moving ahead. Alison also started experimenting with faux finishes including, but not limited to - marbling, malachite, antiquing, faux stone and distressed finishes, mainly to create bespoke furniture, but also applying these techniques to walls and other artworks. She saw art as a Pandora’s Box, filled with excitement and wonder and an abundance of different styles, mediums and techniques to be explored.
By about 1997, she was working in various mediums, and was also doing repair work on broken ceramics, statues and pretty much anything thrown at her. Many of Alison’s early creations came about because she couldn’t say no to people, and was regularly asked to do all sorts of weird and wonderful things. Now selling her artworks throughout shops in and around Canberra and the Old Bus Depot Markets in Kingston, orders were thick & fast, but due to rapid growth and such an increase in orders, she left the Markets to concentrate solely on fulfilling these orders. Somehow by accident Alison discovered that she could paint Trompe L’oeil murals. Though she had had no training in this, it came naturally and she was kept busy painting numerous large scale murals, creating over-sized hand painted ceramic platters, painting reclaimed furniture, and also started mosaicing. One of the more unusual jobs she accepted during this time was hand painting four coffins for two local funeral parlours. It was also around this time that Alison was noticed by Australian Country Craft magazine, which wrote an artist profile story on her at home in Jerrabomberra, just outside Canberra. Following the article, Alison also became a contributor to Australian Country Craft and Hand Made magazines with projects she had created especially for them.
By 2000, her small business had been running for a few years but she thought it would be a good idea to complete a Certificate IV in Small Business Management. After completing the course, Alison registered a new business - Archbold Design - and stepped it up a notch with some exciting new works. Almost immediately, she was commissioned to do large scale murals and Trompe L’oeil, mostly in and around Canberra, but also in Sydney, country Victoria and Thredbo in the Snowy Mountains. Each new job led to the next. Some of her murals are displayed at the entrance hall of Capital Towers in Canberra City, a large club in Queanbeyan, a retirement village. At this point, she also developed her own method of making faux stone to go around some of these murals, creating what looked like “ruins” or an old stone archway.
In 2004/05 Alison was commissioned to do the interior design and all artwork in a Club restaurant, and painted soothing tromp l’oeil murals in each of the consultation rooms for a natural therapies clinic. Additional orders came from many cafés, shops, private homes and businesses commissioning and displaying Alison’s work. During this period of business growth, which was largely driven by word of mouth, Alison was contacted by Lend Lease in 2006, and asked to do a faux concrete finish on some concrete pillars in the New Australian Taxation Office. The designer had requested the columns have a natural concrete finish and some of them had undesirable markings. This was a highly specialised field and Archbold Design won the contract, hand painting over 300 columns in the new ATO Building. Each column had between 4 and 12 different shades of grey. Colours were hand mixed by eye, and painted using a variety of different techniques developed by Alison, to give a “natural” concrete finish. This led to a series of corporate contracts and Alison (Archbold Design), was kept busy with similar work on major building sites for several years which included New ATO 2006 – 2007, Intergrated Natural Therapies 2006, Capital Towers 2007, Snowsports Thredbo 2008, Government Building 2009, Building Installations, Westfield Belconnen 2009, Canberra’s New Building Project 2011, 2012, and 2013.
Somewhere in the middle of all of this, Alison, her two sons Kehnan and Regan and husband Charlie decided it was time to spread out a bit, with the purchase of a farm on the NSW/ACT border in 2006. Animals had always been a huge part of her life, and the property gave them plenty of room to expand their menagerie of animals and rare budgerigars, which Alison had been breeding since the age of 12.
It made sense that their first project was to build a huge art studio, from which Alison ran mixed media art workshops. Classes consisted of making a small mosaic piece, hand painting a ceramics piece which was fired, and an acrylic landscape painting. These were the only classes of their kind being run in the region, allowing clients to try acrylic painting, hand painted ceramics and mosaicing techniques all in the one course. Alison was still painting Trompe L’oeil murals but by now they were large outdoor transportable murals that could be posted interstate or collected from her studio and sold locally through garden centres. During this time, she was approached by a retail nursery to make a three window set “desert scene” which was displayed at Canberra’s world renowned Floriade in one of the garden display entries.
From 2013 to 2016, Alison continued to work from her farm studio, creating outdoor & garden textile sculptures, murals and mosaics, but also spent the majority of that time working on her garden areas. Espaliering trees & making garden beds and meandering paths.
The Vision for the farm
Alison and her husband Charlie have dedicated the last 15 years to constant hard work, transforming their property with over 3000 trees and plants. Their vision is to create a beautiful oasis filled with animals, flowers, bees and organic fruit and vegetables. “We love watching it come to life in spring and summer with all the blossoms, fruits, flowers, colours and sensory triggers”.
In 2016, Alison finally decided to launch her long-term goal, starting up a Greeting card line. Alison’s products are all created by her and include greeting cards, Gift cards, Bottle cards, which she invented and patented, plus limited edition prints.
All her products are proudly 100% Australian made & owned, and Archbold Design also donates a percentage of their sales directly to Australian Animal Rescue each year.
Archbold Design Studio is open to the public a couple of times a year. One of those times is around October, when they are open as part of the Queanbeyan Arts Trail.
In 2020 Alison was commissioned by Wildcare to create a special mosaic memorial for one of their long time volunteers. The mosiac which features Magpies, was created in loving memory, of Laurel Rosin & is now set into a boulder located at Waniassa Park in Queanbeyan, next to the river.
Alison still enjoys a huge variety in her art, and you just never know what she will create next.
Surrounded by all their beautiful animals and plantings, how could you not be inspired?
“You’ve got to be a little bit mad to do all this, but that’s ok - I am!”