Mosaic, gold, and frilly skirts: Mirka Mora’s legacy in Melbourne
French born Mirka Mora (1928-2018) had a particular status in Melbourne: a beloved artist, forever celebrated for her Parisian accent and the epitome of bohemia, she has left many public artworks in the city, populated with her characteristic imagery of children, fantastic creatures and flowery plants. Her public image, her original sense of dress and her eccentric behaviour are as famous, if not more, than her art. Mora’s unique place in the city’s social and artistic circles has much to do with her European migrant status, her central role in Melbourne’s artistic world since the 1950s, together with her important production of public works that have become city landmarks, and her extensive public engagement through workshops, classes and artist talks. However, if material culture was her bedrock to create a powerful image that
made her stand out as a woman artist in a male dominated industry, she also cleverly used her materials and techniques to create artworks that impress by a complex approach of tradition and symbols. Although she embraced a large number of techniques during her career – spanning more than six decades – this essay will focus on her public artworks, and examine the broader implications of her material choices and practices.