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. Alison bought a kiln for her home studio and started producing hand painted ceramic wares, revamped furniture pieces and various other artworks. She was now teaching classes from her home studio, Artisan Art and Craft Centre, Creative Habitat Ceramics Studio and occasionally from community centres. At this point, Alison 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. Alison 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, Alison was creating a varied range of artworks 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. Alison was now selling her wares throughout shops in and around Canberra and the Old Bus Depot Markets in Kingston, but due to rapid growth and an increase in orders, left the Markets to concentrate solely on fulfilling 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 Alison 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. 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, Alison had been running her small business for a few years but 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, and several retirement villages. 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.
From 2013 to 2016, Alison worked from her farm studio, creating outdoor textile sculptures and mosaics, but also spent the majority of that time working on her garden areas. In early 2016, Alison decided to add photography to the mix, so enrolled in a professional 8-week photography course, and later added a half day course on studio photography, to use in conjunction with her art.
Somewhere back 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.
Alison and her husband Charlie have dedicated the last 13 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 dream, starting up a textile and greeting card line. Alison’s products are all created by her and include sumptuous luxury cushions, quality greeting cards and prints, which are all 100% Australian made. 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!”