Prologue: The Mirka Mora Project

In 2017 the St Kilda Historical Society decided to seek support for a project to capture the impact Mirka had on St Kilda through the eyes of friends, family and colleagues. In 2018 funding was received from the Cultural Development Fund of the City of Port Phillip which enabled the first stage of the project to start.  This was to document Mirka's life in St Kilda, the friendships she formed and the contribution she made with her prolific talent and sheer exuberance, to the life of St Kilda. This first stage of the project is documented through Janine Burke's extensive historical research and the interviews now on the Historical Society website.  

The material proved so rich and diverse, the Historical Society decided to fund a second stage which was to present this inspiring legacy in a way that would do justice to the stories, paintings, art work and sheer joi de vie which was Mirka's contribution to St Kilda. The outcome is a beautiful website, with its unfolding story of Mirka told by Janine Burke through her essay Seaside Angel  and the interviews she conducted with family, collegues and friends in Remembering Mirka.

The interviews were filmed and edited by VCA student and local resident, Gilda Jones. Designer Lincoln Flynn and Web Developer Simon Piening created the pages with the oversight of Krystyna Kynst a valued SKHS member. Their efforts provide a vibrant and exciting website.

The decorative panels featured on the web pages are from the Mirka Mora Mural, commissioned by Helen and Jack Halliday in 1986/7 when they owned Cosmos Books and Music (now Readings) in Acland Street, St Kilda. Copyright The Estate of Mirka Mora. 

Acknowledgements - Janine Burke

I’m very grateful to William Mora and Anna Mortley, Philippe Mora and Tiriel Mora for their unflagging generosity and interest in this project. I began work on Seaside Angel immediately after Mirka’s death in 2018, so it was not an easy time for the family which makes their contribution even more precious.

Ross Lansell, who remains deeply saddened by Mirka’s death, provided me with many illuminating insights. I salute Ross for his alacrity and honesty.

I would also like to thank Sabine Cotte; Kyra Cox, Executor, Paul Cox Estate; Siobhan Dee, National Film and Sound Archive, Melbourne; Max Delany, Artistic Director and CEO, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art; Manuela Furci, Director, Rennie Ellis Photographic Archive; Gerard Hayes, Librarian Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria; Ann Holt; Mary Lou Jelbart; Darren Jones, Executor, Albert and Barbara Tucker Estate; Gilda Jones; Rosie Jones; Nicole Kenning, Head of Marketing and Communications, Leonard Joel; Lois McEvoy, State Library of Victoria; Svetlana Matovski, Collections Manager, Heide Museum of Modern Art; Kendrah Morgan, Senior Curator, Heide Museum of Modern Art; Colin Nettleback; Jackie Somerville; Serge Thomann; Jane Touzeau; Mary Waters, Heide Museum of Modern Art; Murray White, Director, Murray White Room; Kevin Wilson, Curator, Artisan.

 Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to trace copyright material. Where the attempt has been unsuccessful, St Kilda Historical Society would be pleased to rectify any omission.

Bibliography - Janine Burke


Beier, Ulli, Mirka, Macmillan, Melbourne, 1980.

Buckrich, Judith, Acland Street, The Grand Lady of St Kilda, Australian Teachers of Media, St Kilda, 2017.

Burke, Janine (ed), Dear Sun: the letters of Joy Hester and Sunday Reed, William Heinemann Australia, Melbourne 1995.

Burke, Janine, Australian Gothic: A life of Albert Tucker, Random House, Milson’s Point, 2002.

Burke, Janine, The Heart Garden: Sunday Reed and Heide, Random House, Milson’s Point, 2004.

Clancy, Patricia and Jeanne Allen, Introduction and translation, The French Consul’s Wife, Memoirs of Céleste de Chabrillan in Gold-rush Australia, Miegunyah Press, Melbourne, 1998.

Cotte, Sabine, Mirka Mora: A life making art, Thames and Hudson, Melbourne, 2019.

Delany, Max, Where Angels Fear to Tread, Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne, 1999.

Dobrez, Patricia, Michael Dransfield’s Lives, A Sixties Biography, Miegunyah Press, Melbourne, 1999.

Harding, Lesley and Kendrah Morgan, Mirka and Georges, A Culinary Affair, Miegunyah Press, Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne, 2018.

Kee, Jenny, with Samantha Trenoweth, A Big Life, Lantern, Camberwell, 2006.

Mora, Mirka, Wicked but Virtuous: My Life, Viking, Ringwood, 2000.

Mora, Mirka, Love and Clutter, Viking, Melbourne, 2003.

Peterson, Richard, A Place of Sensuous Resort. St Kilda Buildings and Their People. 2007.

Smith, Bernard, Australian Painting, Oxford University Press, London, 1971.

The French Presence in Victoria, 1800-1901, (Exhibition catalogue) Introduction Jim Davidson. Balance of catalogue Alliance Francaise de Melbourne, Victorian Artists Society, East Melbourne, 1984.

Periodical, newspaper and online articles

Berger, Rachel, ‘Memories of Mirka’, St Kilda News, Issue 81, October-November 2018, p. 21.

Burke, Janine, ‘Donald Laycock’, Art and Australia, October-December 1975, Vol 13, No 2, pp. 144-151.

Burke, Janine and Lynne Cook, ‘Mirka Mora’, Farrago, 26 April 1974, p.11.

Cawthorne, Zelda,‘Treasure Trove of Mirka’, 18 June 2014,

Donovan, Gail, ‘Memories of Mirka’, St Kilda News, Issue 81, October-November 2018, p. 19.

Dunstan, Keith, ‘A Place in the Sun’, The Sun, 4 June 1971, p.9.

Freeman, Jane, ‘Mora’s magic in full bloom’, Sydney Morning Herald, 6 September, 1996, p.14.

Goodwin, Tricia,‘Love Among the Ruins’, The Herald, 28 November, 1968, p.21.

Grossi, Guy, ‘Memories of Mirka’, St Kilda News, Issue 81, October-November 2018, p.18.

Halliday, Helen, ‘Memories of Mirka’, St Kilda News, Issue 81, October-November 2018, p. 19.

Holt, Ann, ‘Memories of Mirka’, St Kilda News, Issue 81, October-November 2018, p. 16.

Reilly, Dianne, ‘Antoine Fauchery, 1823–1861 Photographer and Journalist Par Excellence’, La Trobe Journal, no 33, April 1984, p.3, fn 9.

Sibley, Sheila, ‘...and art was her choice’, The Sunday Observer, 21 June 1970, p.18.

Solly, Melian, ‘Museum to be built at Site of Nazi Occupied France’s First Concentration Camp’, 18 December 2018.

Manuscript material

Mora, Mirka, papers. Heide Museum of Modern Art.

Reed, John and Sunday, papers. State Library of Victoria.

Reid, Barrett, papers. State Library of Victoria.


Monsieur Mayonnaise (2016). Documentary. Philippe Mora, narrator. Trevor Graham, writer and director. Trevor Graham, Ned Lander and Lisa Wang producers, Antidote Films. National Film and Sound Archive Melbourne.

This film is called Mirka (1974). Documentary. Paul Cox, director. Produced by Prahran College of Advanced Education. National Film and Sound Archive Melbourne.