Alternative Name: Sewing Basket.

Sewing box owned and used by Mirka Mora in her art studio in Tanner Street Richmond from the year 2000. Mirka located there after having lived in a number of residences and studios in Melbourne CBD, Toorak, and St Kilda. The box contains a variety of sewing materials. Notably these include the Elna sewing machine instruction manual (relating to sewing machine HT55674) and a pair of silver metal bird scissors which are referenced in Mirka Mora's memoir 'Love and Clutter'.

This is one of a collection of artist's materials, sewing equipment, clothing and personal items relating to the life and work of iconic Melbourne artist Mirka Mora, sourced from her Richmond artist studio in 2019.

Mirka enjoyed collecting sewing boxes and implements, and she loved sewing, making soft sculpture dolls, and surrounding herself with beautiful fabrics. She also took her treasures to her art classes to inspire her students and offer them tactile inspiration. Mirka reflects in her book 'Love and Clutter': 'When I came to Australia I started to collect Victorian sewing boxes and sewing implements of all kinds: thimbles, crochet hooks, ivory and silver stilletoes, rare needles, fantastic scissors that looked like birds, green velvet boxes containing sewing sets. Sometimes I would take these treasures to my embroidery or doll classes to feed the desir in my students to collect beautiful tools, but most of them were happy just to look at the fine things in my sewing boxes.' ('Love and Clutter', 2003, p.24)

Physical Description

Sewing basket with plain brown woven cane exterior, metal clasp and handle, with edged lid and an edged base. The interior of the box and lid is lined with pink silk, with the inside lid padded and studded with a stip of fabric running down the centre with six white baubles attached. The basket originally contained a pair of scissors in the shape of a bird, a small drawstring purse containing a thimble and spool of white cotton partially wound onto bone thread winder, a skein of wool, a pink French porcelain pill box, several spools of thread, a crocheted doily, a scrap of lace-edged cream silk, and some loose paperclips, needles, a receipt, thread and one thimble in a plastic bag.


Statement of Historical Significance:
There are few names as synonymous with Melbourne's cultural and artistic life as Mirka Mora. Artist and café and restaurant owner, her larger than life personality and her very accessible and public art dominated Melbourne's cultural landscape for over 50 years. Mirka was a post World War II migrant and a leader in the formative years of Melbourne artistic and cultural urban development. Mirka embodied the spirit of bohemian Melbourne for decades and this diverse collection provides an entry point to appreciating the rich life of a complex, multi-faceted woman. The material represents a migrant, cultural and artistic life, revealing her artistic processes, influences and style,and brings the personal side of Mirka to life.

This collection also complements one of the migration collection's strongest sub-collections, the Immigration and Artistic Practice collection. This collection draws on artworks, materials, equipment, migration objects and oral histories to explore how Victorian migrant artist's adapt, develop and transform their artistic practice within a new social, cultural and artistic environment. It provides evidence of the richness provided to the documenting of migrant artist's lives, not just through their artworks, but through the materials showing how their practice evolved over time.

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