A remarkable woman with the most brilliant spirit, Mirka Mora contributed so much to Melbourne’s art world and the wider creative community. She truly was one in a million! The latest celebration of Mirka’s extraordinary legacy is the Mirka Mora: Pas de Deux – Drawings and Dolls exhibition, which opens at Heide Museum of Modern Art today.
We talk to Heide’s Artistic Director Lesley Harding and Senior Curator Kendrah Morgan, curators of this very special exhibition, about Mirka’s enchanting world and prevailing legacy.
How do the pieces in ‘Pas de Deux – Drawings and Dolls’ fit into Mirka’s extensive bodies of work, and what do they reveal about the artist?
Lesley Harding and Kendrah Morgan: Mirka always said the two art forms went hand in hand, and that her dolls were her drawings in three-dimensions. She had a lifelong love of dolls, and used them as props for her drawings and paintings, creating different scenarios for the various characters. Most of the works in the exhibition are from her studio, where she kept them close for several decades, and this is the first time many have been on public display.
The drawings and the dolls formed a central part of Mirka’s practice, and reveal both her working methods and her vivid imagination. Collectively they serve as a visual diary of her life since the 1950s, when she arrived in Melbourne from Paris, and in that sense could be described as a kind of continuous self-portrait.
What can people expect for the Pas de Deux exhibition?
People will now fully understand how prolific Mirka was—there are around 400 objects in the exhibition, and this represents only a small fraction of her oeuvre. She drew every day and filled countless sketchbooks with beautiful images, developing and refining her distinctive style and idiosyncratic iconography.
She also created a remarkable number of dolls, each with their own unique personality. We’ve displayed these so visitors will feel immersed in a magical Mirka world. There is also an interactive space in the exhibition, where people can make their own Mirka-inspired paper doll and take selfies with some of her fantastical creatures.
What is the significance of this exhibition, and what has it meant to you both to have worked so closely with Mirka through Heide over the years?
The exhibition was planned as a celebration of Mirka’s 90th birthday year, and with her recent passing on August 27th, it now serves as a tribute to a rare and cherished person and an extraordinary creative life.
It was a great privilege to work closely with Mirka over the last decade. We have many treasured memories of long conversations in her studio on a multitude of subjects, and fond recollections of her delicious sense of humour and unpredictable antics, including during Heide public programs! She was one of kind and a dear friend to us personally and to Heide over many years.
Mirka Mora: Pas de Deux – Drawings and Dolls
October 27th 2018 – March 24th 2019
Heide III: Central Galleries
Heide Museum of Modern Art
7 Templestowe Road