Mirka Mora Inspired Dolls

Term: 1 Year: 2020

In December 2018, members of the Boroondara Art Teachers’ Network attended the Mirka Mora exhibition being held at Heide in Bulleen. We were all inspired by the whimsical dolls Mirka had produced over many years.

The art teachers of Boroondara Park Primary, Lisa Trevorrow and myself, resolved to take this inspiration to our grade 3 and 4 students at the beginning of the 2019 school year. We were encouraged by the idea that Mirka herself had taught doll making classes during the 1970s.

After considering photographs of the works of Mirka Mora and learning something about her interesting life and her role in the Melbourne art scene, the children designed their own doll on a piece of A4 paper. It was emphasised that to make them Mirka-like, they should accentuate the eyes and lips of their dolls. They were encouraged to keep the shapes as open as possible, in order to facilitate the stuffing later on.

The design was then traced onto calico. With close supervision and the assistance of some much appreciated parents and grandparents, the children themselves used sewing machines to sew their dolls together. They absolutely loved this part! As we had only four machines to work with, on loan from school families, children were rostered to take their turn. Cardboard stars in Mirka style, were cut and painted while children waited for their turn at the sewing machines.

The dolls were carefully stuffed with wadding, the opening closed and then the children worked with paints, markers and fine-liners to realise and extend their original design on the now 3D shape.

The children and their parents were very inspired by this project, which took almost a whole term to complete. Progress was documented and shared via the art-room’s Instagram page, and as a consequence, many took the opportunity to visit the exhibition at Heide before it closed.

Thanks to Mirka Mora for her enduring power to inspire, and to Heide for making her works accessible to us.

Jennifer Hortin
Art Teacher
Boroondara Park Primary School