Summary

Unfinished artwork, pencil drawing and embroidery on calico, made by Mirka Mora in her art studio in Richmond circa 2000s. The work features two classic Mirka designed winged figures beneath a smiling sun, as well as embroidered elements. The work was stored in one of Mirka's sewing boxes (HT 55666) which also stored a variety of sewing materials. For Mirka, drawings and soft-sculpture dolls were art forms that went hand-in-hand, reflecting: 'My dolls are my drawings in three-dimensions.' (Heide Museum of Modern Art, Mirka Mora: Pas De Deux-Drawings and Dolls exhibition website, cited 4 January 2021). This precious unfinished work captures Mirka's creative process, simultaneously drawing in pencil and embroidering on fabric.

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 Tanner Street 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

A scene of winged angels and a snake/bird figure under a smiling sun drawn in pencil onto a double layer of calico, with a centrepiece vintage embroidered gold flower basket and a rhinestone necklace woven across the 'sky'. One angel is padded and the outer outline embroidered with green and pink cotton thread. A needle with pink embroidery floss is pinned to the upper left and a needle with yellow embroidery floss is pinned to the lower right.

Significance

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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