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Mirka Mora

1928 – 2018

Mirka Mora (1928-2018), French-born artist and restaurateur, narrowly escaped Auschwitz as a girl. Having trained in drama, by 1951, when she came to Melbourne with her husband, Georges, she was committed to painting. Soon the couple became friends with the city's leading artists and collectors, and were instrumental in the re-formation of the Contemporary Art Society. Over the course of the 1950s and 1960s they opened the European-style Mirka Café in Exhibition Street (the first Melbourne café with outdoor seating), the Balzac in East Melbourne (the first restaurant with a licence to serve liquor after 10pm) and the Tolarno in St Kilda. While Georges established himself as an art dealer, Mirka became a Bohemian icon of the city. Having worked zestfully for six decades across a range of media - including embroidery, soft sculpture and doll-making - she is represented in many state and regional collections. Her mosaics decorate Flinders Street Station, she has painted a tram, and in 2007 she repainted her original murals for the re-launched restaurant, Mirka at Tolarno Hotel. Her autobiography, Wicked but Virtuous (2000), was followed by a book about her favourite things, Love and Clutter (2003).

Updated 2018