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Sabine Cotte / Listening, watching and reading to conserve: a collaborative project with artist Mirka Mora

Mirka Mora, artist workbook’s pages

Listening, watching and reading to conserve: a collaborative project with artist Mirka Mora

Sabine Cotte

Paintings conservator

Poster presented during the conference "Authenticity in Transition. Changing practices in art making and conservation", 1-2 December 2014 Glasgow School of Art, Scotland. Abstract published in the Abstracts booklet, available at:
Courtesy: Glasgow school of Art, Erma Hermens and Frances Robertson.


This poster investigates the creative processes of Mirka Mora (born Paris 1928), a major figure of Melbourne’s social and artistic history. During a career closely linked to the city’s development, to community art policies in the 80s and to gendered perceptions of the artist figure, Mora has produced an ongoing corpus of work in a vast range of mediums.

I use oral history techniques, study of selected diaries, observation of artworks and regalia in the artist’s studio as well as watching the creative process in progress. Participatory methodologies are tested and tailored to Mora’s personality, as well as innovative methods of sharing research. This study records Mora’s artistic intent, methods and materials, her perspectives about her production’s future and includes questions of authenticity when she ‘refreshed’ her own murals. Mora’s techniques have always informed each other in an organic relationship. I propose a reading of her practice through her materials, looking at their economy in her life, their role as communication tools in her workshops, how she transformed gender-associated materials to create her artistic identity and used material culture in the making of her own myth. This documentation and analysis will in future contribute to Mora’s art preservation and related decision-making in yet unknown contexts.

About the author:
Sabine Cotte has degrees in paintings conservation from INP- Paris, ICCROM and University of Melbourne. She worked in France, Nepal, Bhutan and Australia, and published in international journals and conferences. Her interest lies in questioning the relevance of conservation in its relationships with contemporary artists, communities and users of living heritage.