If you’ve ever stumbled across the illustrious imaginings of Merakilabbe then Vanja Vukelic needs no introduction. A renowned multimedia artist working across drawing, writing and photography, empowered by intuition and a deep trust in her innate creativity, Vanja Vukelic eloquently portrays the interconnectedness of humans and nature through various mediums of creative expression. A pioneer in her visual aesthetic, her drawings are highly recognisable for their recurring earth narratives featuring plant-women hybrids and are tattooed by hundreds of women all over the world.
Recently, Vanja’s written work has expanded into an online newsletter, Multilayered, where she shares her heartfelt musings on creativity, intuition, earth connection, embodiment, liberation, and the intricate layers of life. In one of her recent publications, Vanja delves into “the transformative power of creative practice as a source of healing”, unveiling the magic behind “treating our entire life as a beautiful artwork and nurturing it with the same care and dedication”. Indeed, Vanja’s wisdom and visionary guidance is a valued gift in modern times.
Whether you’re exploring the mysticism of her artistry or traversing the dimensions of consciousness through her writing, Vanja offers an abundance of both introspection and inspiration in multiple facets, forms, and layers of love. Join us as we share a slow moment with Vanja exploring the magic of creativity, connecting with nature, and the importance of empowering women for the benefit of collective well-being.
Tell us about your artistic journey. What offerings are you currently sharing with the world?
My creative journey took a transformative turn when I became a mother, as my son taught me to reconnect with my inner child and reignite my passion for writing. I currently write a weekly newsletter called "Multilayered," where I explore a rich tapestry of subjects, from the realms of intuition to the intricacies of motherhood, art, and the complex dimensions of our existence in this capitalistic world. Additionally, I'm currently immersed in the creation of a series of zines designed to stir inspiration and elevate the collective consciousness through a blend of visual art and prose.
Vanja Wears the Nora Mini Dress in Primrose
Recently you transitioned from the name Merakilabbe, why?
About the names: I’m from former Yugoslavia, born in Sarajevo, Bosnia. When I initially chose the name “Merakilabbe," it was during a period when I was deeply immersed in working with sacred plants. The name translates to "priestess of creativity" and felt like a profound code that I would grow into and embody. I’ve grown into it and grown out of it and it’s been such a magical journey, one that continues as I wholeheartedly now embrace my birth name. So, both names are in essence an ancestry of Slavic origins. My name Vanja is pronounced Vanya.
What is the central message of your work?
The central message of my work revolves around highlighting the interconnectedness of humans, particularly women, with nature.
Amongst your own self exploration, creative expression, and motherhood, what helps you feel balanced and your cup full?
I find balance and fulfilment through long walks in nature, deep connections with animals and plants, and a consistent daily journaling practice.
Women empowerment is a value we feel is illustrated so beautifully in your work. Why do you feel empowering ourselves as women is important for the collective?
Empowering ourselves as women holds profound significance for our collective strength. It's about embracing the power of collaboration over competition, aligning with the natural harmony of growth and support. When women uplift each other, we unlock a shared potential that transcends limitations, forging a path to a more equitable and harmonious future where we all thrive together. It’s also of paramount importance for our collective well-being, especially after enduring so much, bearing inequalities, and often keeping our experiences hidden. When we unite and share our stories, we not only heal but also reshape the reality for generations to come.
We love creating styles in honour of nature & traditional hand-craftsmanship that support women to flow in their feminine essence, how do you feel wearing them?
I love your dresses! Especially as a mother, my body has undergone big changes—my breasts grew significantly and unevenly. After months of searching for something that fits well and makes me feel good, discovering your styles is like a breath of fresh air. Finally, I can step out of my sweats with confidence. I am absolutely in love. I wore both dresses yesterday, one for my morning tea ceremony, one on my sunset desert walk and felt like a goddess in each.
Do you have any special words of wisdom to share with our readers?
Just get out. Get out into the world, get out into the forest, get out of your mind, get out of the societal boxes. Don't wait for conditions to get perfect and ideal. Trust the unknown, no matter how elusive and illogical it may sound. Trust your body, your intuition, and keep walking.
Life is an adventure waiting to be embraced. The most profound discoveries and personal growth often occur when we step out of our comfort zones and into the great unknown. So, dare to wander, explore, and take risks. Nature has its own way of healing and rejuvenating our spirits. Disconnect from the noise, and reconnect with the serenity of the wilderness. It's where you can find solace and rediscover your inner self.
What is it you love about baking? Would you share one of your delicious (and beautiful) recipes with us?
I started baking during my postpartum when I didn't have the time and energy to make art or sit for long periods but my creative muscles still needed stretching. I longed to connect with my ancestors, especially at a time when my family was physically distant during such a crucial phase of my life. Baking became my way of bridging that gap, a way to draw closer to my spiritual matriarchs, to honour their wisdom and traditions in a tangible and heartfelt way.
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons acorn flour (optional for a unique flavor)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2 cups of oat/almond mylk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Edible flowers (pansies, daisies, violets etc..)
Fresh raspberries (for topping)
Date paste or nut butters for pancake topping
- Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C) and grease a baking sheet.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, acorn flour (if using), baking powder, and salt.
- In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, mylk, and vanilla extract until well combined.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Be careful not to overmix; a few lumps are okay.
- Gently fold in the finely chopped walnuts into the batter.
- Pour the batter onto the greased baking sheet, spreading it evenly to create a uniform layer.
- Top the sheet pancake with raspberries and edible flowers for a visually stunning and delicious presentation.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until the pancake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
- Once the pancake is baked, remove it from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes.
- If desired, drizzle with date paste or spread over nut butters for sweetness, and serve squares of this magic pancake to enjoy the unique blend of flavours and textures.
By Ella Josephine Archer