Collection: Mitchell, Alison

Alison Mitchell (b. 1980) is a multi-disciplinary Canadian visual artist. Her fiber art, paintings, and collages depict simplified, stylized subjects in vibrant but limited colour palettes. Her work is highly personal and tends towards affectionate portraits of the people, flora, and household items that brighten her days.
Many of Alison’s most recent pieces are “yarn paintings” that she creates using a simple wooden rug hooking tool called a punch needle. Each one represents a unique blend of a traditional Atlantic Canadian craft with Alison's modern aesthetic. She sources nearly all of her yarn from Canada’s oldest woolen mill, Briggs and Little in New Brunswick, and dyes it in pots in her kitchen.
​Originally from Ottawa, Alison now lives with her young family in the colourful seaside town of Lunenburg in Nova Scotia. Prior to getting serious about making art around 2021, she spent 17 years as a diplomat, legal advisor, and adjunct law professor. Specialized in international law, she served at Canada's diplomatic missions to NATO in Brussels and the UN in New York, in Kandahar, Afghanistan, at Canada's embassy in Washington, D.C., and in the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. She continues to teach international law at Queen’s University.

Artist Statement

I recently found a delicate cross-stitched sampler of a baby chick and flowers that I spent weeks making in the summer after kindergarten. It was a good reminder of that my impulse to create art goes way back. My maker spirit warmed the bench though for almost two decades as I focused on my legal and diplomatic career. Then, four years ago, I reassessed everything. I left my job and moved 1500km east with my young family to a little house with big grass-covered backyard I could turn into garden. As I settled into a quieter new life by the sea, the whispers to make, make, make grew more persistent. I surrendered to them bit by bit and then all at once. 

My worldview had darkened over the years during my last chapter. My art practice has lightened it back up considerably. Nowadays when I see something that lifts my spirits, I have an excuse to spend more time with it as I try to make something that invites people to see it the way it looked and felt to me. Ephemerality is no match for my punch needle! 

My work today is very much centered around my desire to celebrate what makes life in Nova Scotia feel so right, from the flowers blooming in my garden and on the roadsides to the free-spirited characters I'm meeting as I go about my day. I have also developed a bit of an obsession with Atlantic Canada’s rich rug hooking tradition and I'm enjoying exploring how I can honour it in my own way. Finally, getting the colour palettes of my pieces just right is a central of what I'm doing, so I spend a lot of time mixing paint in my studio and dyeing yarn in my little kitchen. 
I hope that the people, plants and places that have increased my dopamine levels give you a little hit as well.