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Mirka Mora. How do you write about a living legend and do her justice?  Truth is you can’t.  The best way is to get in amongst her work and experience her ‘treasures’ at first hand.  Heide Museum of Modern Art has provided a perfect opportunity for you to do just that.  Up until May 1st 2011 Heide 1 is hosting a selection of paintings, drawings and soft sculptures created by Mirka during her prolific career.  This week a friend and I availed ourselves of this opportunity and spent the best part of a day ‘treasure hunting’ at Heide.

Those of you familiar with Heide 1 will remember the sun room at the museum entrance.  In October of last year, Mirka painted this mural on the sun room windows in preparation for the exhibition.

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The windows are now adorned with examples of her idiosyncratic characters.  Serpents and beasts are in evidence along side specific Heide references to arvo tea and cats.

Many of the drawings and paintings on display were gifts to the Reeds during a long association which began soon after Mirka emigrated to Melbourne in 1951. Some were given in appreciation of hospitality and others acknowledging special events. I’m convinced that Sunday Reed’s spirit still inhabits Heide 1.  Add to that Mirka’s whimsical, multi layered work and there’s a fair bit of magic happening.

A fascinating surprise awaited me in the bathroom- the painting “Rainbow Figures” painted in 1961   The exhibition notes describe it best.
“Rainbow Figures is a frieze of self portraits inspired by the theatrical traditions of the “Comedies Italiennes” and eighteenth century “fetes galantes” or outdoor festivities. The cutout quality of the figures and use of striated colour and black contours also recall stained glass window design.”  Don’t miss it.

I also recommend that you read the exhibition catalogue as it records a recent interview with Mirka which provides rich insight into the relationship between Mirka and the Reeds…it’s worth buying just for that.

In planning a visit to Heide, don’t forget the lunch possibilities at Heide provided by Cafe Vue  (I recommend the Duck Pie) or as friends and I plan to do in February- arvo tea on a little patch of lawn in the Heide garden with special culinary delights we prepared earlier. (I’ll be referring to “Sunday’s Kitchen” for inspiration.) In true Heide style arvo tea will be at 4pm sharp and lateness will not be tolerated.  My friend and I will gladly surround ourselves with the ‘Mirka’ exhibition a second time.

Incidentally, the exhibition of drawings at Heide III is not to be missed… Del Kathryn Barton…need I say more.

PS  The magnificent Mirka vase at the top of this post is the third vase that has been designed by Mirka exclusively for the Heide gift shop.  A limited edition of 250 of this vase design has been produced and each vase is numbered.  If you would like one, dont delay as the other two vases in the series were very quickly snapped up.

Visit Heide Museum of Modern Art website