Marylou Gilbert with William Mora at 360Q.
Marylou Gilbert with William Mora at 360Q.

Celebrating the genius of Mirka Mora

The son of French-born artist Mirka Mora captivated a full house during a Queenscliff Literary Festival event at 360Q, recalling anecdotes about his parents Georges and Mirka’s lives before fleeing war torn Europe for Melbourne.

William told the crowd that Mirka was a beloved and central figure in the cultural and culinary life of Australia and captured the public’s imagination with her distinctive art and inimitable personality.

Mirka’s art was individual, imaginative, whimsical. She ran workshops in doll making at the Council of Adult Education in Flinders Street where Geelong artist Deborah Brearley attended.

360Qs Barry Iddles created a French-themed dinner using recipes from the recent publication ‘Mirka and Georges’ written by Heide curators and authors Lesley Harding and Kendrah Morgan.

“And they’ve got it right,” said William.

Launched in the year of Mirka’s 90th birthday, the book gloriously illustrates the Moras’ extraordinary story, the couple’s classic French recipes, photographs from family albums and images from Mirka’s studio by internationally renowned photographer Robyn Lea.

“It’s a cook book without pictures – or an art book with recipes,” said William.

William related his and his two brothers upbringing and the family restaurants, Balzac and Tolarno’s, in St Kilda.

“Charles Blackman was cheffing at Balzac while painting his ‘Alice in Wonderland’ series. I worked for Dad for 10 years for slave wages until he told me that ‘one day this will be all yours’.”

William didn’t wait any longer and left to establish his own successful art gallery featuring ‘the moderns’ – Tucker, Percival, Hester, the Nolans.

Mirka died last August and was offered a state funeral – a great honour for the family. Mirka’s works are on permanent exhibition at Heide Gallery among ‘the moderns’.


This article first appeared in the June edition of the Queenscliffe Herald.

If you would like to enquire about booking a function at 360Q, please email Barry at

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