Mirka Mora is a well-known French-born Australian visual artist who creates unique and colourful iconography. She contributed significantly to the development of contemporary art in Australia. Recently she contributed to the world of fashion with the ‘Gorman x Mirka Mora’ collaboration. In the Spring of 2016, the iconic fashion label Gorman launched a collection featuring 4 of Mirka’s artworks.
I was first introduced to Mirka Mora’s work by a very dear friend. She took me to see Mora’s heritage-listed mural at the southern end of the Swanston Street concourse near Flinders Street Station. I loved the colourful designs and creatures, both painted and mosaicked. I wanted to know about this artist who help found Melbourne’s art scene. My friend has since passed away, so both the mural and Mirka hold a special place in my heart.
I attended this sold-out Art Talk, the last event on the final day of the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival. It was casual conversation between Kendra Morgan, Senior Curator at Heide Museum of Modern Art, and Lisa Gorman, founder and creative director of Gorman. Lisa was clad in a stunning Mirka Little Friends Dress from the collection. She talked about working with Mirka and gave us insight into how art and fashion can unite.
We gathered in the intimately cosy Heide II Gallery. Fittingly, the gallery was originally home to Heide’s founders, John and Sunday Reed. The Reeds were close friends of Mirka for 30 years. Listening to Lisa speak about the process of producing garments was fascinating. She explained how swatches (fabric samples) were made to ensure printing of works onto fabric was optimal.
To our surprise, we learnt that Lisa does not have a wish list of artists she wants to work with, as she’s found that not every artist is to open to collaboration. Mirka, however, was engaged in the process and thrilled with the result. So thrilled that on the day of the talk, her 90th birthday, she will be wearing her signature Mirka Dreaming Sheer Dress to her birthday celebration.
This dress was on show during the talk and Mirka’s beautiful creatures, angels, and botanicals danced across its fabric. They danced across the audience, too: many women in attendance sported their Gorman as well as Gorman x Mirka Mora pieces.
After the talk, our small group moseyed onto the terrace, a beautiful setting on an entirely pleasant evening. Nibbling delicious cheese and biscuits selected by Bernadette Alibrando, Heide’s Public Programs Manager and a self-professed lover of cheese, I started up a conversation with Lisa. We spoke of the challenges of living up to the expectations of others after producing great work. It reminded me of Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED talk called ‘Your elusive creative genius’. ‘What’s next?’ is the question that often plagues the successful.
We also chatted about the Gorman pop up store in LA and her latest shoot at Salvation Mountain in California. Salvation Mountain is a folk art explosion in the dessert and is influencing the latest Gorman pieces. Lisa comes across as a thoughtful and passionate designer with a warm nature. As she left to tuck her girls into bed, I reflected that I had initially come to worship Mirka but had fallen in love with Lisa.
Wish you’d been able to make it to this event? Visit Heide later this year for a Mirka exhibition being assembled by Kendra and her team who are currently looking through hundreds of Mirka’s sketch books and dolls. It would also be a good time to get your hands on a copy of the fabulously-titled book Wicked But Virtuous Mirka Mora My Life Australian Artist Autobiography — and maybe it’s time to purchase a Gorman garment. Don’t lust after a Gorman x Mirka Mora piece, however, as they are hot property and sold out!
Cara has long hair, long legs, and a long association with all things arty, crafty, colourful and fun!
Heide Museum of Modern Art
7 Templestowe Rd
Bulleen VIC 3105
Open Tuesday – Sunday and public holidays 10am – 5pm.
Parts of the venue are accessible.
This Art Talk was filmed can be found on Heide’s Facebook.
Visit www.heide.com.au/support/dear-mirka-love-heide for more information.