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  • Fiona Prior

Mirka Mora

Mirka Mora

How fabulous is the work of the late artist Mirka Mora and that bohemian lust for life she exemplified? And how fabulous are the citizens of Melbourne who either donated to a fund or bought her work directly for donation so that Mirka’s legacy could be kept at Heide Museum for the public’s delight?

I loved the fact that so much of Mirka’s life is encapsulated in the beautifully windowed Reed homestead ‘Heide’, where Mirka’s whimsical figures decorate the views like naïve stained glass. Some of Mirka’s dolls are inside; as are her books, paintings and sketches; along with old photographs, mementos, paint palettes, brushes and tubes.

One letter on display explained how Mirka ‘got away with it’, i.e. had a life of uninhibited freedom while other women would have been ostracized from polite Melbourne society. Mirka was ‘a foreigner’. How simple!

image: George Mora on his knee. Mirka Mora is cusping her face in her hand. Location outside one of the Mora eateries in Melbourne.

Mirka and her husband George could almost be seen as the upholders of city bohemia while the Reeds (owners of the property Heide), were the sophisticated country-dwelling patrons of the arts. Mirka and George frequently visited the Reeds, bringing food and wine to join their friends for a rural or beachside romp. Sidney Nolan, Albert Tucker, Joy Hester, John Perceval, Danila Vassilieff.… even the Rolling Stones visited Heide; artists frequently staying and painting at the homestead.

It is well known that Summer Reed was having an affair with Sydney Nolan when he painted the Ned Kelly Series, and a wonderful quote from the same document I noted earlier was of Mirka’s husband George expressing “I don’t mind you (Mirka) telling me about your affairs but do you have to tell all of Melbourne…”. Quite obviously, both women played outside their marriages and their husbands did not seem to mind. Likely, they too were up to antics. I think it was called 'swinging' in the day!

I am sure that everyone Melburnian would know of ‘Heide’ and more than likely have already visited the relatively recent acquisition and display of Mirka’s work and belongings now housed there. However, Sydney-siders like me should definitely visit this treasure trove just outside Melbourne or pop into Melbourne's Tolarno Eating House and Bar to see the beauty of Mirka’s murals en masse and up close. (*Mirka and George also ran eateries in Melbourne where the city's bohemians converged to exchange ideas and be wined and dined. Apparently, these restaurants rarely made money ... but I am sure they were lots of fun.)

Quite obviously George was a wealthy man :)

Heide Museum of Modern Art

7 Templestowe Rd, Bulleen VIC 3105


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