It’s only been two short months since our incredibly successful Mirka for Melbourne campaign, which raised over $200,000 in one week (!) enabling Heide Museum of Modern Art to acquire key artefacts and artworks from the studio of the late Mirka Mora.
With your support, we raised more money than we could ever have imagined… and then… the Victorian State Government stepped in, and MATCHED our efforts, with a further donation to contribute towards the restoration and exhibition of the works acquired. WOW. Unbelievable!
Taking its name from the campaign, ‘Mirka for Melbourne‘ opens at Heide this week, showcasing these important acquisitions. Included in the show is a range of Mirka’s artworks, creative tools, art materials, furniture, family photographs, diaries, mementoes and personal effects, acquired thanks to the generous donations of more than 1,500 members of the public.
The exhibition has been staged in record time thanks to the curatorial efforts of Sophie Prince, a young curator at Heide who has stepped up to tackle this dream project in the tightest of timeframes, with stellar results!
We spoke to Heide’s team behind the exhibition (and our newfound friends following this fundraiser!): Heide’s artistic director Lesley Harding, guest curator Sophie Prince, collections manager Svetlana Matovski and development director Barb Taylor…
This show has come together so quickly, can you tell us a little about how you’ve been able to achieve this, and the challenges involved?
Lesley Harding (Artistic Director) : We felt it was really important to make the newly acquired Mirka collection available to the public as quickly as possible, so as to celebrate the remarkable generosity shown towards Mirka and Heide and keep up the momentum already generated. Additional funding from the Victorian State Government allowed us to enhance the collection by acquiring further works and treating and conserving a number of special items, as well as giving us the scope to engage a curator, especially for the project. Sophie Prince jumped at the challenge and pulled off a magical exhibition in just four weeks.
Sophie Prince (Guest Curator): I was really excited to be given the opportunity to curate this exhibition, albeit with a very rapid turnaround! The short timeframe meant I had to spend an intense few days unpacking all the recent acquisitions, and at the same time develop the thematic curatorial framework. I wanted to use each room in Heide I in a logical way, while also allowing the objects to really speak for themselves. It is normal for curators to labour over the conceptual underpinnings of an exhibition, however, I committed to my curatorial approach within the first week of work, as I needed to quickly move forward with bringing the idea to life logistically.
Can you explain what has been involved in terms of the restoration and display of the works?
Lesley Harding: Once we decided that the exhibition was going to happen swiftly, it was imperative we prioritised treating the objects that needed special attention in order to display them. The Tolarno mural is a major acquisition for Heide, and so it underwent some initial conservation work to consolidate areas of paint loss and ensure it was carefully cleaned. Fortunately, The Grimwade Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation generously offered to do this for us immediately, as an in-kind contribution to the campaign.
Svetlana Matovski (Collections Manager): A number of the dolls and teddies were also sent to our friends at Museums Victoria as a precaution, to ensure they were free from insects before entering the museum environment. This involved placing the coddled toys in an industrial-sized freezer! They were also cleaned, photographed and catalogued before going on display.
Sophie Prince: There were also 15 densely packed boxes of archival material that Heide acquired with the funds from the campaign that needed to be represented in the exhibition. These included photographs and sketches, diaries and scrapbooks, and some amazing correspondence that give a real insight into the heady days of Melbourne’s mid-century art scene.
What is most noteworthy about this exhibition, and what are you most excited about?
Sophie Prince: I think it is really amazing how much of a sense of Mirka you get by being immersed in her objects, even when they displayed together outside of her studio in the museum context. I’m really excited to see how the public react when they realise the significance of what they have enabled Heide to acquire for current and future visitors to enjoy. The objects are very evocative and it is so moving to know that this collection will be held together in a public institution in perpetuity, so we can continue to be inspired by the art and life of Mirka.
Barb Taylor (Development Director): This exhibition is the result of over 1,500 people donating, united in their shared love for Mirka Mora and her work. That is a phenomenal achievement. We are just so thankful to Lucy and The Design Files team, and all your wonderful subscribers, for bringing your creativity, passion and generosity to the Mirka for Melbourne campaign.
Mirka For Melbourne
April 16th to August 25th
Heide Museum of Modern Art
7 Templestowe Road