Mirka Mora was a French-born Australian visual artist and cultural icon who contributed significantly to the development of contemporary art in Australia. Her media included drawing, painting, sculpture and mosaic.
Mora captured love, light and joy through her signature cherubs, angels, birds, snakes and fantastical animal-human hybrids all rendered in warm colours and bold lines. But underneath that beauty lies Mora’s painful personal story, and a childhood that came to an abrupt end in 1942. As a French-born Jewish 14-year-old, her mother and her two sisters were sent to the Pithiviers internment camp, a temporary location before deportation to Nazi death camps.
In a 1979 interview with the ABC, Mora said: “I’m sure that my brain just got stuck at that age, because … what I saw was too terrible.”
Mora’s family managed to escape from the camp and, after the Holocaust, the artist would go on to collect, paint and make comfort objects including dolls and teddy bears.
In 2002, Mora was made an ‘Officier de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres’ by the French Minister of Culture and Communication. ‘Mirka Lane’ was named in her honour in St Kilda, Melbourne. Numerous publications and films have been produced about Mora’s life and art.
Mora’s work is held in many collections including National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne National Gallery of Australia, Canberra and Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne.