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Mirka Mora mural

Peter Maltezos's picture

Mirka Mora mural at Tolarno to be uncovered and preserved

SEPTEMBER 12 2016 - 2:43PM Hannah Francis

The renovations at the former Tolarno restaurant in August. Photo: Hannah Francis

Heritage Victoria has ordered a St Kilda restaurant to take down a wall it built in front of a heritage-listed mural by artist Mirka Mora following an investigation by The Age.

The owners of pasta restaurant chain Sauced were renovating the front dining room of the Fitzroy Street restaurant, formerly Tolarno, when local residents raised the alarm.

A lattice-like wall was erected a few inches in front of the mural, obscuring at least a third of the work, which was heritage-listed in 2009.

Heritage Victoria engaged art conservator Sabine Cotte, who is writing a PhD on Ms Mora's painting techniques, to inspect the renovations. The organisation determined "not all the works undertaken had been approved by Heritage Victoria".

Co-owners Ben Thompson and Sylvan Spatarel had been granted an external permit for renovations to the window, but not the inside of the room.

Mr Thompson said the second wall had now been taken down under Ms Cotte's supervision. Ms Cotte said she had erected a temporary covering so the mural was not damaged, and would oversee measures to further preserve it.

While there was some flaking in parts of the mural, that damage had existed prior to Sauced taking over the lease, she said. "The main thing is there's no damage done to the mural."

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Sydney Struwig's picture

Great find - thanks Peter :)

Connecting ideas, places and people. #ohyesmelbourne

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Peter Maltezos's picture

The stunning Mirka Mora mosaic at Flinders Street Station.

I collect, therefore I am.

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theboynoodle's picture

I cannot fathom why someone would not want to make that mural a feature of their restaurant. Good news that it will be kept uncovered - but baffling that anyone ever wanted otherwise.

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Peter Maltezos's picture

The definitive book on Mirka:

Mirka Mora

Wicked but Virtuous, My Life

Mirka Mora


First published in 2000

In print

Few artists in Australia are held in such affectionate public regard as Mirka Mora. Even fewer have had such an amazing life. Narrowly avoiding Auschwitz during the Second World War, she left France in the early 1950s with her husband Georges and settled in Melbourne.

There they ran three landmark café-restaurants which became magnets for artists, writers and intellectuals – a slice of Paris’s Left Bank in an otherwise staid and provincial Melbourne.

The Mirka Café was not just a fantastic place to be, it was the impetus for the revival of the Contemporary Art Society, which in turn led to the establishment of the acclaimed Museum of Modern Art at Heide.

Wicked But Virtuous is an eccentric autobiographical account of a life lived to the utmost.

I collect, therefore I am.

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Grampians's picture

"...pasta restaurant CHAIN..."
like we need a lame chain restaurant version of Italian when we have so much authentic Italian here for decades...shallow people with no respect

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theboynoodle's picture

Chains usually started out as independent 'authentic' businesses - they became chains because they were popular. Some chains are bad, obviously. So are lots and lots of 'independent' businesses.. and one of the reasons chains are popular is because (sadly, in my opinion, but it's fair enough) a lot of folk don't like to take a risk.

But even if you look past the ever-unadventurous, chains do a handy job for lots of people. I eat in town every Tuesday evening. I always go to one of Schnitz, Lord of the Fries, Om, or a cheapo Indonesian joint near the state library. So that's one of a big chain, a little chain, a little-r chain, and an independent joint. I could go to new places every week.. but, y'know what, I just want to walk into somewhere where I know what's on the menu, I know what it costs, and I know what it's like.

So hooray for chains. And it works both ways. If you visit one and it's rubbish then you know to avoid it everywhere.

Still.. when people bemoan chain restaurants merely for being chain restaurants, I have to wonder at what point they flipped from being good authentic venues to boring old chains.. was it when they opened their 5th venue? 10th? Maybe you're super strict and consider that any claim to authenticity is lost when venue 2 opens the door?

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