I first met Mirka in 1984 when I was 14, my Mum took me to a soft sculpture workshop she was taking at the time. As an adult, we'd often pass each other in the street or the supermarket in Richmond, where the Bloom HQ is located (around the corner from Mirka's house), we'd stop and say hi and we'd chat as she did with most people on her outings.

My true friendship with Mirka, however, began in 2004. We had tragically lost our son Justin to SIDS when he was six months old, and in the days afterwards I was consumed with every image, photo and video of him. It was then that I was reminded of Mirka, when a book she had illustrated, fell from my shelf.

I contacted her to see if she would paint an angel of Justin for both of my daughters as a way for them to feel Justin’s presence. She agreed, but had a condition: that I paint the angels with her. We spent countless hours together: painting, talking, crying and laughing. While everyone else spoke to me in whispers and walked on eggshells around me, Mirka and her surroundings took on a different energy. She would sometimes scream Justin’s name in her heavy French accent; she would offer me champagne and caviar at 10 in the morning, and allowed me to mourn for my son amongst her haven of ‘Love and Clutter.’ It was like I was transported to another country. Being with her was an escape from everything, including sadness, and our relationship went far beyond those early years.

We did unusual things at unusual times, and her joie de vivre was contagious. So much that she taught me remains with me still, and I think of her every time I record a date on the notes I scribble, the drawings I put to paper – because she taught me that without a date, there’s no context. I miss her terribly, but feel blessed to have had a long, deep friendship with such an unconventional, eccentric soul.

Here are just a few photos and memories of my time with Mirka.

Starting our Angel paintings in Mirka's studio.

With my beautiful twins Justin (L) and Amber (R), 2004.

Mirka's kitchen, where she painted in watercolour and where we spent many hours chatting.

Beautiful vignettes of inspiration.

Always flowers.

Angel Painting 1

Angel Painting II (co-signed).

Mirka teaching my girls some painting tips.

The under layers of a painting titled 'Family'.

'Family', that we couldn't help buying...I saw every layer evolve and didn't know it  captured my family until after I bought it.

Mirka et moi! A friendship I will cherish forever!

Heide Museum of Modern Art presents presents Mirka for Melbourne showcasing Heide's recent acquisitions from the magical studio of Mirka Mora, thanks to the generosity of over a thousand people who responded to the ‘Mirka for Melbourne’ campaign. Along with items from the studio, this free exhibition includes other significant acquisitions funded by the campaign: the paining When the Soul Sleeps (1970), the famous Tolarno mural (c. 1966) and Mirka’s rich archive.

See it from 16 April in the Heide I house.