Mirka Mora was an influential and beloved figure in the Melbourne art scene. She died in 2018, at 90 years old, and was honoured the same year with a major exhibition at Heide Museum of Modern Art. Now she is the subject of a new show which offers an in-depth and intimate look at both her prolific artistic output and her bohemian and adventurous lifestyle through the lens of her rich Jewish cultural heritage.
Mirka Mora (née Zelik) was born in Paris in 1928. Arrested and incarcerated in 1942, she did not spend long in a concentration camp and managed to survive the holocaust before immigrating to Melbourne, with her husband Georges, in 1951.
MIRKA, at the Jewish Museum of Australia, highlights the artist’s personal triumphs and joie de vivre through her letters, sketchbooks and diaries as well as more than 200 artworks which have not been exhibited before, sourced from the private collections of the Mora family and the artist’s studio and archives. Important pieces from Heide’s permanent collection will also be on show.
Sound plays a key role in bringing Mora to life in MIRKA. Drawing onJewish Holocaust Centre archives, Australian audio artists Madeleine Flynn and Tim Humphrey have been commissioned to create a unique soundscape that allows visitors to hear Mora’s stories and memories, in her own words, as they are guided through the museum.
Jessica Bram, director and CEO of the Jewish Museum of Australia, said in her statement that MIRKA, like the artist herself, “radiates with hope, love, joy and resilience.”
A reproduction of Mora’s work has been blown-up to a massive scale to cover the façade of the building. A larger-than-life and irrepressible personality by all accounts, it seems appropriate that Mora’s exuberant energy has spilled out of the museum.