Presciently, the Moras stayed in St Kilda Road when they arrived in July 1951. A series of fortunate coincidences lead them to ren an apartment at 9 Collins Street, already known as the 'Paris end' of Collins Street. Grosvenor Chambers was built in 1888 to accommodate artist studios and its illustrious tenants included Tom Roberts, Jane Sutherland, Arthur Streeton and Clara Southern, all members of the Heidelberg School.
Mirka Mora's passionate longing for Australia found a home in St Kilda. It's curious that this gifted and aspiring young woman was adamant that she wished to quit Paris and relocate to Melbourne. It was 1950. She was married to Georges Mora and had given birth to their first son, Philippe. What prompted such a dramatic shift? Georges wasn't keen. The former French Resistance member had other destinations in mind if forced to leave Paris. Casablanca, for example. Perhaps Saigon. But Mirka was determined, with a ferocious focus that would mark the rest of her life.
Mirka Mora (1928-2018) lived an extraordinary life. Born in France and narrowly escaping Auschwitz as a young girl, she moved to Melbourne with her husband Georges and immersed herself in the community and culture of Melbourne, in particular St Kilda. It would become Mirka's favourite place. She lived in St Kilda from 1966-1975, and returned to buy a house in 1981, staying until 1999, when she moved to her own apartment adjoining the home-gallery complex in Richmond built by art-dealer and second son,William Mora and his wife Anna Mortley. The story of her journey, her work, and her life is a rich tale of passion, adventure and boundless creativity.
1873. These maps are considered some of the most beautiful maps done of areas in early Melbourne. They were commissioned by the Town of St Kilda and provide a snapshot of the township at that time. The edition you are viewing is from a lithograph edition produced for the Town Clerk at the time. The maps are indexed with the owners at the time and the buildings classified as to whether or not they were timber of brick/stone..
Mirka loved St Kilda’s raffish bohemian charm and made it her home for nearly two decades. From 1965-1970, she lived with her family at the Tolarno Hotel in Fitzroy St and assisted with managing the Tolarno Bistro with Georges, her husband. It was Melbourne’s best-known French restaurant. In 1970, when Mirka and Georges separated, she moved to a shop front dwelling in Wellington St, off St Kilda Junction. After a period living in Toorak and the CBD (1975-1981), Mirka returned when she bought a Victorian cottage at 116 Barkly St where she lived until 1999.
St Kilda Historical Society has now started on stage one of the production of Seaside Angel: Mirka Mora’s St Kilda, a 30 minute documentary that focuses on the renowned artist’s St Kilda years. SKHS has been fortunate to have the blessing of William Mora, Mirka’s son and art dealer, as well as a seeding grant from CoPP. Dr Janine Burke, art historian has been appointed as heritage consultant for the project with the able assistance of student film maker at the VCA and her crew, Gilda Jones.
To date a series of interviews have been recorded with friends including Serge Thomann and Marylou Jelbart at the Tolano Restaurant in Fitzroy Street. Other people who have also taken part in round one of interviews include Kevin Wilson who assisted Mirka with the St Kilda Pier mosaic, and artist Ann Holt. William Mora also featured and will be taking us on a tour of the Tolano Hotel where he was raised. A journey into the past which we will all be able to share!
Another important St Kilda artwork by Mirka is the mosaic seat at the entrance to St Kilda pier. It was commissioned by CoPP and Mirka completed it in 1996.
The St Kilda Historical Society started in 1970 and will be celebrating its 50th year in 2020. The SKHS has collected a great deal of information and objects both large and small. We are committed to making this information accessible and interesting to those who live here or want to know more about the St Kilda area.
From its earliest days the St Kilda area was a meeting point for people. During the period of European settlement St Kilda epitomized the boom and bust cycles of Victoria generally. The people and place reflects this diversity. For information on the Society and the key periods of St Kilda development. See: