Eirene MORT

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia 1879 – Bowral, New South Wales, Australia 1977

  • England 1899-1905
  • Italy 1926

Mirror c.1906 Place made: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Materials & Technique: metalwork, mirrors, copper, glass mirror, cedar copper repoussé mounted over wood frame

Dimensions: 85.0 h cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1984
Accession No: NGA 84.681.19
  • With the artist until her death in 1977.
  • Estate of the artist.
  • Purchased by the Australian National Gallery, from Jim Alexander Gallery, Melbourne, who represented the estate, May 1984.
  • By 1900, Australian decorative arts and design reflected British and European design styles of the late 19th century, such as the Arts and Crafts Movement, the Aesthetic Movement and Art Nouveau. The emphasis on nature as subject matter, the expression of nationalism and regionalism and the return to handcraft values in these styles found favour with designers and craft practitioners seeking to celebrate Australia’s unique flora and fauna with the advent of Federation.

    Eirene Mort’s work resulted form a thorough training in art, design and craft in England from 1899 to 1906. Her subsequent work as an etcher influenced her craft output in metalwork, ceramics and woodcarving, giving her work a strong and consistent design character.  While influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement and Art Nouveau, Mort concentrated on Australian subject matter, using native flora and fauna as design motifs in book illustrations, bookplates, postcards and illustrated manuscripts. This wall mirror, with its repoussé copper design of eucalypts, is a fine example of the integration of her design and craft skills. Mort made her designs available to other craft workers, broadening her influence in the burgeoning nationalism of Australia’s post-Federation period.

    Robert Bell

    Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
    From: Anne Gray (ed), Australian art in the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2002