“In 2004 I was enjoying lunch with some friends at a restaurant in the tropical oasis of Tamborine Mountain, Queensland (the hinterland behind the Gold Coast) when this bubbly, feisty little man (who looked a bit like Santa) bounced up to my friend Gabi to say “G’day!” She introduced me to Michael Ward as ‘such a character’ and we hit it off immediately!
During the course of lunch Gabi said, “now that you’ve moved up here what are you going to do?” My options were wide open, and she told me that Michael and his wife Alla owned and operated the Tamborine Mountain Distillery. “You’re an artist,” she said, “why don’t you apply for a job hand- painting the bottles, maybe Alla could use some help as she does them all!”
I had never seen any of their hand-painted bottles so decided I wanted to show up with some evidence that I could paint. I wanted to keep it relevant, so after doodling a couple of paintings on a port and some wine bottles I headed up to the Distillery where I was greeted with great enthusiasm by Michael. When I asked if he and Alla were looking for any help painting their bottles, he showed me Alla’s beautiful Folk Artwork.
I produced the bottles I had painted, at which he announced, “Oh they are way to detailed for what we do, how long did one take you to do?” I didn’t know as these were the first bottles I had ever painted and I hadn’t really timed myself he said “Yes, but can you paint one in two minutes, that’s how long it takes Alla to do one, are you that good?” “yep” I said, “I’d just need to practise!”.
Well, I didn’t get the job hand painting bottles, but Michael did say he would keep me in mind if any fine detail artwork projects came up as they had a few new native Australian flavour liqueurs in the pipeline. I didn’t hold my breath.
Shortly after that my family moved to the UK to live, one morning I received a phone call from Oz (Michael) “Darling, I have been trying to track you down, Gabi said you’d left the country! Luckily, she gave me your number - we want to commission you to paint a label for us, can you do it?”
“Absobloodylutely!” I said, “you know how to make a girl’s day, what do you need?”
The Australian Herbal Liqueur was born and with much correspondence I had the privilege of painting the detailed Australian bushland artwork that you see on the product today.
My good fortune continued when they offered me the prestigious opportunity to design their label for the ‘first ever manufactured in Australia’ Absinthe. Under their direction the ‘Moulin Rooz’ brand was born (his little wordplay on Moulin Rouge). I continued to paint other botanical flowers and plants for their delicious liqueurs whilst having the best job in the world as one of the staff in their boutique shop and tasting room. Life just didn’t get better than that!
Things changed when I had to leave my fabulous lifestyle to help out my parents but I continued to paint pieces of artwork on occasion for the Distillery right up until Michael and Alla retired and sold their business it to Shumei and Gordon in October 2017.
I was invited to celebrate the Distillery’s 20-year anniversary, what a fabulous weekend, especially when Gordon and Shumei asked if I would be interested in painting a series of labels for their limited edition ‘Eau De Vie’ range under the Moulin Rooz brand! I have never been so excited in my life!
It is with pure pleasure that I continue to produce artwork at their request, I was so happy when I was asked if I would consider being the distillery’s resident artist, my ‘dream job’ as they say...when you do something you love, you never work a day in your life! Thank you, Tamborine Mountain Distillery, it is an honour to be part of your team.”
Today visitors can still see Anne’s original artworks on display at our Distillery Tasting Room at Tamborine Mountain. Anne has recently painted a whole new range of botanical labels for our new 700ml Professional series bottle labels which will be launched in the coming weeks.