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By Natalie Mell, Digital & Social Media Editor

Meet The Australian Artist Bringing Native Flora To Life Across Our New Bottled Cocktail Range

When dreaming up our new Native Australian Bottled Cocktail range, we were confident we could make our country’s beautiful local ingredients shine from the very first sip. But before that? They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but some things are worth celebrating, and so with the liquid ready to go, we tapped local artist Melanie Vugich to create equally luscious labels.

From bright bush apples to rosella flowers in full bloom, Melanie’s four original artworks beautifully bring to life the array of flora that inspired our brand-new Bottled Cocktails. But despite her penchant for featuring Australian natives in her still-life work, we were intrigued to learn that Melanie’s practice is underpinned by years spent living in Florence, creating gorgeous fabrics and being inspired by The Greats. Naturally, we had to know more…

Melanie Vugich and her label artwork for the Wattleseed & Peach Iced Tea

Tell us about your journey to become an artist–did you always know it was what you wanted to do?

Yes, I knew from an early age—it was the only thing I ever wanted to do. My Mum has kept all the paintings I did from the age of four, which she presented to me last year. The collection included work I had done for my HSC and in my early twenties, which is when I headed to Europe and ended up living in Florence. I worked as a fabric designer and spent all my spare time painting and drawing. I had a lot of solo group shows and knew that I would eventually focus on painting full time, which I am so happy to be doing now.

What motivated you to move to Florence?

I fell in love with Florence immediately and at first thought I’d only stay for a summer. It quickly became my home; I learned the language and began working as a fabric designer. During those years I made my lifetime friends, I met my partner, and our son was born there. I consider Italy my other home.

Has that experience influenced you and your work?

Definitely. I was surrounded by beauty, art and artists. I learnt everything I know about art in those years and my painting style was developed there.

How would you describe your style?

I focus on still-life and interiors paintings and include Australian flora and objects I use every day. My favourite Italian coffee pot makes a regular appearance, as do my vintage teapots, tablecloths I’ve gathered over the years, favourite vases and books. I’ve always had a strong sense of colour, so I have a great time experimenting.

Do you have a favourite artist?

My all-time favourite is Henri Matisse, but there are many that I love. I’m mostly inspired by Modernist artists and am always flicking through art books and adding them to my paintings.

What inspires you generally?

Native Australian flora, everyday items, beautiful objects, colour, living by the ocean, regularly visiting my outback hometown.

What does a typical day look like for you?

I wake early and usually start the day with a swim in the nearby ocean pool. I generally begin painting around 11am and work through until daylight ends.

The Native Australian Bottled Cocktail range, featuring Melanie's original artwork (left) and Melanie's work 'The Joy of Spring Afternoons'

How did you approach the artworks you created for our Native Australian Bottled Cocktail range?

After being given the brief and ingredients it was very clear to me how I wanted them to look. Australian native plants are my favourites and I use them constantly in my work, so it was a joy to create these labels.

What was your favourite thing about working on the project?

I loved doing the research—it reminded me of my fabric-designing days.

Do you have a personal favourite?

No… I had fun creating them all.

What about when it comes to the bottled cocktails?

It’s hard to choose, but my bottle of Rosella Sour seems to be diminishing quickly. I love how it gets a tropical-holiday vibe when I serve it with soda and lots of ice.

Finally, where else can we find your work?

At melanievugich.com or @melanievugich

The Rosella Sour Bottled Cocktail

Melanie's FAST FIVE

Favourite local gallery space… Twenty Twenty Six in Bondi is a beautiful space.

Go-to spot to recharge… My local ocean pool.

On my studio playlist… I am currently listening to lots of talented Australian women, including Alice Skye, Angie McMahon, Melody Pool, Emily Wurramara and Sweet Whirl.

Advice for aspiring artists… Just keep painting.

The most exciting thing about 2021… The fact that the world seems to have tilted back onto its axis - and I’ve got a couple of solo shows planned.

Our entire Native Australian Bottled Cocktail range is available online, and at our Cellar Door in Rosebery.