Women love their clutter fiercely when it is full of love.
When I think back on my childhood memories – there are certain things that have stuck with me through my journey in life and which I’m sure have shaped me into the person I am today. One of those very strong memories is of the paintings by Mirka Mora that hung in my friend Ella’s house. I think I remember them so vividly because I loved the colours, the big eyes on the faces and the wings. Of course I didn’t know that they were painted by Mirka until I was much older - when I recognised the eyes and whimsical style in other paintings of hers and put two and two together.
In my late twenties – when I was in full swing of my event management day job – I was lucky enough to put together a series of literary luncheons at ZINC at Federation Square. At the time Mirka had just released her second book – ‘Love & Clutter’ and I was keen to secure her as a guest and speaker. On the day I welcomed the guests and Mirka (how excited I was to meet her!) with the story of my childhood and playing in the house with her paintings on the wall. She thanked me for sharing and went on to tell her story and views on the world and life in general. What a character she is! She certainly had the audience in fits of laughter with her innocent and yet charming ways.
I felt a great resonance with Mirka that day and in particular the topic of her new book – Love & Clutter. For those of you who know me well – I have always loved clutter. Organised chaos I call it…….sometimes it overwhelms me but for the vast majority of my day to day life – the clutter that makes up my home is primarily trinkets and treasures I have collected during my travels around the neighbourhood and over the seas. My clutter inspires me – it helps me to be the creative I am and it is filled with so much love and memories. Here is an excerpt from the book that I particularly liked……
A Bundle of Fabrics - excerpt from Love & Clutter by Mirka Mora
When I was a child, my mother would put aside pieces of fabric from the dresses she made for her three little daughters – silks, taffetas, cotton, wool, and a lot of lace and ribbons – all of unimaginable colours, different lengths and widths and quality. I coveted those pieces but wasn’t allowed to investigate them until the age of eighteen; my memory of them is still very strong, probably because they were forbidden. My Mother had her own world and remains a mystery to me today, as parents often do.
When my mother readied herself to leave Paris to live in New York, the only luggage she took was these pieces of fabric enveloped in a white damask tablecloth, tied diagonally by its four corners. Mother knew the story of each little piece and decided to take these memories with her. I was amazed, then slowly understood how much love was hidden in her collection of fabrics. Those pieces of cloth from all the clothes my mother had made us were a photo album of our childhood.
A snapshot of Mirka……
Mirka Mora is one of Melbourne's best known and loved artists. Since the early 1950s when she and her husband Georges immigrated to Australia from France, she has contributed to Melbourne's transformation from quiet, provincial town to sophisticated, multicultural city. Her early training was in mime and drama, but painting was her focus by the time she reached Australia. Close friends of other committed artists and patrons, including John and Sunday Reed, Charles and Barbara Blackman, Barrett Reid, John Perceval, Laurence Hope, Arthur Boyd and Joy Hester, Mirka and Georges were instrumental in the re-establishment of the Contemporary Art Society in Melbourne from 1953. They also helped bring European-style dining to 1950s Melbourne, opening the Mirka Café in Exhibition Street, the Balzac in East Melbourne (the first Melbourne restaurant to receive a 10pm liquor license) and finally Tolarno in St Kilda. Mirka's numerous public artworks including mosaic murals at Flinders Street Station and St Kilda Pier, and a painted tram, have all helped enliven the city, and her bohemian style and joie de vivre have endeared her to Melbournians from all walks of life.
Mirka's fifty years of creative energy have resulted in a prolific output of work across a range of media - drawing, painting, embroidery, soft sculpture, mosaics and doll-making. Her colourful, sensuous iconography has emerged from the breadth of her interests and reading, her love of classical mythology, her desire to reclaim and make sense of childhood and familial relations, and her recognition of the power of sexual desire.
Mora uses a wide range of media and her work features strongly in the permanent collection of the Heide Museum of Modern Art in the Melbourne suburb of Bulleen. She is a noted colourist and symbolist. Her paintings are often bright and bold, drawing heavily on a stable of recurring motifs - innocent, wide-eyed children, angels, dogs, cats, snakes and birds. For many years she has conducted workshops in painting, soft sculpture and mosaics, where countless Australians have learned from her unique approach to teaching art.