Alcohol and its influence have been the subject of artistic endeavour for centuries.
From Van Gogh’s 1887 L’Absinthe to Shakespeare’s frequent references to the benefits – and downfalls – of alcohol’s influence.
Indeed, Othello said: “Good wine is a good familiar creature, if it be well used”.
The connection between the two continues now, with Tasmanian alcohol producers working with artists to create branded bottles, packaging and products.
Sparkling winemaker Jansz Tasmania recently launched the results of its collaboration with Hobart artist Eloise Lark.
Lark’s work varies from graphic design to illustration and large-scale artworks.
Jansz released two bold and colourful limited-edition gift boxes featuring Lark’s work, Derwent Seasons, in time for Christmas.
The boxes of Jansz’s Premium Cuvée and Premium Rosé each feature part of Lark’s abstract work depicting the drama of Tasmania’s ever-changing climate.
Jansz Tasmania vigneron Jennifer Doyle said the artwork was a great fit for the brand because both drew on Tasmania’s “essence”.
“Derwent Seasons represents the dramatic climatic changes in Tasmania’s environment,” Ms Doyle said.
“It affects everything – from the characteristics of the soil in which our vines grow, to the ocean breezes which moderate vineyard temperature throughout each year, allowing for long, slow ripening.
“It is very reflective of where the grapes we use come from, and references the autumn colours of the vineyard,” she said.
Lark elaborates, saying Derwent Seasons depicts Tasmania’s changeable weather and the fact we can experience “all seasons in one day”.
“I grew up in Hobart, in a family home that had views of the Derwent River. One of the things I loved most about my time there was the volatility of the weather – warm and sunny one minute, cold and thrashing with rain the next,” Lark said.
“Derwent Seasons tries to capture and appreciate all of these seasons in one artwork.”
Tasmania’s weather is often referred to in derisive terms, but Lark sees it differently, and wants her work to be “uplifting”.
“I wanted people to get positive vibes. It’s about capturing a mood which is present in Tasmania as the moment with population growth and tourism,” Lark said.
While collaborating with brands is not new to Lark, having created illustrations for Cotton On and other businesses before, the way her artwork has been used is novel.
Lark’s artwork is a large piece, measuring eight metres by three metres, but parts of it were taken to produce the Jansz premium packaging.
“Derwent Seasons is a one off. It’s a huge mural, but it had never been printed small. It was really cool when I saw it,” she said.
“It all made sense, like it was designed for this. I’m really happy with the way it turned out.”
The Jansz/Lark collaboration follows another premium alcohol and art team project, with Hartshorn Distillery working with six Tasmanian street artists who used its vodka bottles as a canvas.
Each 700 millilitre vodka bottle in the Hartshorn Distillery Street Artist Series featured an original artwork painted by one of the six artists.
This collaboration extends the creativity head distiller Ryan Hartshorn puts into each bottle.
“All my bottles are spray painted by hand and are hand written, so I feel my brand has a small connection to street art,” Mr Hartshorn said.
“Quality street art is one of my favourite artistic styles, which is why it is the first style [of art] I have released as a collaboration.”
Hartshorn Distillery was the first to create gin and vodka from sheep’s whey.
Mr Hartshorn and his family also run Grandvewe Cheeses in Birchs Bay, south of Hobart.
Both the Jansz and the Hartshorn artistic collaborations go beyond pretty packaging and bottles, with Launceston-based marketing consultant Rebecca King explaining all parties realise benefits from the experience.
Ms King, who founded Kingthing Marketing, said brands saw benefits from collaboration from a numbers perspective through “economies of scale and increased market share”.
“But less tangible benefits include the chance to share expertise with each other, innovate and get ahead of the competition,” Ms King said.
And there is always the feel-good factor too.
“From a positioning perspective, it is great for businesses to be seen to support the arts, especially if their target markets value artistic endeavour,” she said.
Another factor evident in the Jansz and Hartshorn examples is the sense of place such a collaboration creates, with the Tasmanian brands further anchoring their association with the state’s culture by working with artists who take their inspiration from the island itself.
“Like-minded individuals collaborating often creates a result that is far greater than the sum of its parts, and allows for innovation that could not have previously been made possible. The old saying of ‘two heads are better than one’ definitely applies here,” Ms King said.
“From a visitor economy perspective, the local connection to Tasmania is evident as tourists continually comment on how genuine our people are and how they love the authenticity of the products they purchase.”
The idea of collaboration in big business is a tried and tested technique – consider Tourism Tasmania’s partnerships with airlines, TT-Line and AFL – but it is becoming a more effective strategy for small and medium businesses too.
“The agility of smaller businesses means they are in a position to collaborate fairly seamlessly if the two organisation’s values align,” Ms King said.
Hartshorn Distillery has committed to releasing another art series next year after the Street Art Series sold out, and both Jansz and Lark said they were keen to collaborate on future projects.
Working with an artist to create bespoke packaging was a first for Jansz, but Ms Doyle, who was was awarded Viticulturist of the Year 2017 by Australian Women in Wine, said she hoped there would be more opportunities to work creatively “if all goes well”.
“We’re a bit excited about it,” Ms Doyle said.
“It’s a limited edition packaging that is something reflective of our relationship with Tasmania.”
This sentiment was backed by Lark.
“I’d love to do more collaborations,” she said.
“This has been a bit of a dream job. To think so many people can see my work, and the way my name has been acknowledged, is a dream.
“It has long been a family tradition to share a bottle of Jansz Tasmania on Christmas morning, so this project means a lot to me personally.”
Pairing hand-crafted wine with original artwork highlights the level of craftsmanship involved in both winemaking and painting as creative processes.
“We are a proud Tasmanian brand that celebrates craftsmanship,” Ms Doyle said.
“That is why it is significant for us to collaborate with a Tasmanian artist for this project. Eloise Lark’s Derwent Seasons effortlessly captures the conditions that make Tasmania what it is.”