Mirka Mora: A Life Making Art

Sabine Cotte

 
Mirka Mora: A Life Making Art
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Mirka Mora: A Life Making Art

Sabine Cotte

Mirka Mora: A Life Making Art provides a unique insight into one of Melbourne’s most beloved personalities. Revealing an unseen side of Mirka through both her materials and practice, this intimate portrait shares her complex and truly innovative techniques, which until now have not been studied.

Detailing the artist’s breadth of practice, her idiosyncratic processes and blend of traditional methods and modern creativity, this book shows how Mirka’s various modes of making art connected deep emotions, stories of displacement and loss with major movements of the twentieth century. From Holocaust survivor to Melbourne cultural icon, Mirka expressed the intensity of her personal life through artworks that embodied feminism, the craft movement as well as community art policies of the 1980s.

With privileged access to the artist and her studio, Sabine Cotte offers a new perspective on this extraordinary woman, illuminating Mirka’s significance as one of Australia’s most compelling, creative and prolific artists.

Review

I adore Mirka Mora’s virtuosity and this art book is devised for those that love her and her glorious art practice. Told with grace and obvious affection, Sabine Cotte’s book is a tribute to Mora’s contribution to Melbourne, to the art scene, to dining out, and to feminism. It is about an artist who thrived on breaking conventions and attitudes by using her practice, attitude, and faith in humanity. Mora is quoted as saying, ‘I would paint the sky if I was offered it.’ Many of us believe that she did just that.

Mora came into Cotte’s life when the National Trust asked her to do conservation work on Mora’s wonderful Flinders Street mural. (Readings is proud to safeguard another of Mora’s murals at our St Kilda shop.) Cotte is a French-Australian painting conservator and, while initially sceptical, Mora worked with her to re-create the original brilliance of the mural. By the time the project was finished the two had become close friends. Cotte was attracted to Mora’s artistic knowledge, her inquisitive mind and wish to leave her mark on the Australian art scene. She was struck by the breadth of Mora’s endeavours: her teaching roles, her innovative way of approaching materials (plaster dolls, for example) and her need to anchor her praxis in the tradition of the masters. All of these particular attributes are discussed, alongside Mora’s history, the delicate means of conservation used on her mural, the occasional photo and the reasoning behind various repetitive motifs.

Cotte has succeeded in writing a serious investigation into art techniques that realises and commemorates Mora’s impact and authority on Australia without using convoluted terminologies. Rather, the language is welcoming and allows easy reading for those that want information about an idiosyncratic woman and artist. Vale Mirka Mora.


Chris Gordon is the programming and events manager for Readings.

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