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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

The Mirka Café (now Bistrot Balzac) 1954 (Frenchman Jean Sablon opens Mirka Café, with Mirka Mora centre in dark dress, with friends and Athol Shmith’s wife Bambi in the window)

Courtesy of William and Mirka Mora

Originally established as the Mirka Café in 1954 by immigrant artists Georges and Mirka Mora, Bistrot Balzac can claim the honour, along with Pelligrini’s, of introducing European café culture to Melbourne. Just as the bohemian cafés that flourished in France had become synonymous with conversations and the dissemination of culture, Mirka Café became the favourite haunt of Australian artists and philosophers. Mirka Mora’s biography, My Life; Wicked but Virtuous, describes the happenings in this social and creative hub of the 1950s in vivid detail – the illicit romances, many dramas and great debates. It also incorporated the display of art in the café. Despite a relocation and a few name changes, the legacy of the Mirka Café lives on in the many coffee houses scattered across Melbourne today.

Related information

Margaret Fulton
Margaret Fulton
Margaret Fulton
Margaret Fulton

Masters of Fare

Chefs, winemakers, providores

Previous exhibition, 2004

Masters of fare: chefs, winemakers, providores celebrates men and women who have championed the unique culinary characteristics and produce of Australia, enriching our lives with new ideas and new flavours over the past forty years.

The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance

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The National Portrait Gallery building at night
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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

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