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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.

Mirka and Philippe - 9 Collins Street

c. 1966 (printed 2015)
Lazar Krum

inkjet print on paper (sheet: 49.8 cm x 64.7 cm, image: 40.1 cm x 54.6 cm)

Mirka Mora (1928–2018), French-born artist and restaurateur, narrowly escaped Auschwitz as a girl. Having trained in drama in Paris, 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), then Balzac in East Melbourne (the first restaurant with a licence to serve liquor after 10pm) and finally the Tolarno in St Kilda in 1966. While Georges established himself as an art dealer, opening Tolarno Galleries in 1967, Mirka became a bohemian icon of the city. Having worked prolifically for six decades across a range of media - including painting, drawing, embroidery, soft sculpture and doll-making - she is represented in many state and regional collections. Her mosaics decorate Flinders Street Station, she painted a tram, and in 2007 she was commissioned by new owner Guy Grossi to repaint the original murals with her characteristic softly rounded, angelic figures for his 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). Mirka's undimmed gusto and creative expression are highlighted by her 2016 collaboration with iconic Australian fashion label Gorman, two years before she died at the age of 90. Acknowledged for her formative influence on Melbourne's cultural identity, Mirka was loved as much for her contributions to contemporary art as for her generous and outrageous nature.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of the artist 2015

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

Lazar Krum (age 18 in 1966)

Mirka Mora (age 38 in 1966)

Philippe Mora (age 17 in 1966)

Donated by

Lazar Krum (3 portraits)

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

Café and shop

On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

Mirka Mora
Mirka Mora
Mirka Mora
Mirka Mora

It's a Mora!

Magazine article by Tedi Bills, 2016

Select extracts from Mirka Mora's autobiography, Wicked but Virtuous, provide rich accompaniment to recent Gallery acquisitions.  

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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 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.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

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