A new mosaic memorial to local ‘bird lady’ Laurel Rosin is now in Waniassa Park on the Queanbeyan River. Laurel was the bird coordinator of Wildcare Queanbeyan for many years before she died in January 2020.
Local artist Alison Archbold was chosen by Wildcare to make the memorial. She is also a bird and animal lover and her Googong farm is a release site for rehabilitated blue-tongued lizards and eastern long-necked turtles.
Alison is a talented mosaic artist who also paints in water colour and acrylic. This is her first public mosaic, but she has done public murals in various buildings around Canberra and Queanbeyan. She also runs mosaic courses at her leafy garden studio.
The memorial mosaic took six weeks to complete.
“There were many days when I sat working for up to 12 hours at a time,” says Alison.
She made the mosaic in the studio at her Googong property, then installed and sealed the piece onsite at the park.
The memorial unveiling was an emotional moment.
“I was so humbled by the beautiful comments from her family, friends and colleagues,” says Alison. “There were many of us in tears.”
Laurel was a local character who loved a laugh and a long chat, and always brought her famous pikelets to Wildcare training courses. Native birds were always welcome in Laurel’s garden, with magpies, kookaburras, wattlebirds and many others popping by for a feed.
“Magpies were Laurel’s favourites and were a must in the artwork I designed for her,” says Alison, who is also a bird lover.
She has painted many birds during her career, including a large mural of parrots and gum trees for the entrance foyer of Capital Tower in Canberra city. She regularly paints ducks, chickens and budgies for her greeting card line. And magpies, of course.
“I have bred rare blue series budgies, predominantly golden-faced violets, for 42 years,” says Alison. “In fact, world-renowned photographer Leila Jeffreys came and stayed for three days while she photographed some of my birds as part of her worldwide exhibition.”
Alison has also bred Araucana chickens (blue egg layers) and French Marans chickens (dark brown egg layers) for many years. Her Googong property also sees many wild bird visitors.
“Magpies are most definitely a personal favourite, as are parrots,” she says.
Her Googong farm is also home to kangaroos, lizards and turtles, which provide plenty of inspiration for Alison’s artworks. The abundant wildlife has also seen Alison contact Wildcare for help during the years.
“We have called on them numerous times to help with wildlife issues on our farm, such as kangaroos stuck in fences,” she says. “They truly are incredible, hardworking and dedicated volunteers.”
Alison would like to volunteer with Wildcare herself one day, but maintaining her property and garden, painting custom pet portraits and creating images for her cards, cushions and patented bottle cards means there is not a lot of time left.
“We sponsor Aussie animal rescue each year through our business, Archbold Design,” she says.
After pouring herself into the Wildcare memorial for Laurel Rosin, Alison’s choice for sponsorship this year was easy.
“I felt compelled to sponsor Wildcare next,” she says. “So we are now sponsoring Wildcare Queanbeyan this financial year.”