Oria Massa - Artist Biography


Oria Massa was born in Brindisi, Italy, before moving to Milano. Her father was a Doctor of Puzzle Solving (crosswords). He loved art and moved to America in the 1940’s. He did sketches of Italian actor and film director, Claudio Gora.

Massa’s talent was discovered by the nuns where she attended kindergarten in Milano. This recognition, with support from her parents, encouraged her to develop her skills. At age 20 she migrated to Australia. Massa continued to teach herself whilst other opportunities presented themselves. She was Miss Sports Girl 1977 and raised $25,000 for the Yooralla children, following this she was approached by Channel 9 studios.

Whilst working at Channel 9 in Melbourne, Oria was asked by former Today presenter Maurie Kirby to create a series of cartoons for the Life Be In It campaign, and participated in an advertisement with Daryl Somers. Kirby commissioned Massa to do a portrait for American actor, comedian, author and artist Jonathan Winters, who visited Australia in 1977. She had the honour of presenting Winters with the sketch, he received it enthusiastically. Subsequently, his good friend Dean Martin appropriated it for his own collection.

In 1979 Massa hosted the International Snooker Championships featuring Eddie Charlton and Cliff Thorburn, for Channel 2.

Channel 9 photographer, Barry Bell, created a modelling folio for Massa, which was the beginning of a new career. At age 23, she modelled for Vogue Italia, Runway, New Idea, record cover:To the Door of the Sun and many other assignments.

As a result of connections with high profile figures in the industry Massa was offered more opportunities to do artwork and sculpting. In 1993 Massa held both a financially and critically successful exhibition of all her artwork and sculptures in the Dallas Brooks Hall, Melbourne. Audiences were surprised by the variety in her work, with many different styles represented.

One of Massa’s proudest moments was being able to replicate and reproduce Michelangelo’s masterpiece, The Creation of Adam for the the ceiling of the Carlton Arts Centre.

Massa created the 7m x 2.5m Dream of Don Bosco leadlight with 10,000 pieces of glass and one kilometre of lead for the Don Bosco Chapel in Brunswick. The Don Bosco Youth Centre is also home to Massa’s largest artwork, The Dream of Don Bosco, at 10m x 4m.

Massa has donated many paintings to charities including the Dante Alighieri Association and The Red Cross.

Massa hosted the 1997 Festival of the Italian Song including the Versace fashion parade.

After a ten year hiatus Massa began to paint again in 2014.

Massa’s painting titled Portrait of Daniela, is an entrant in the 2015 Archibald Prize.

Recent works include a portrait of friend, Michelle Hall, actress and teacher, self portrait Dream Come True, My Little Angels, Connection and more…

Painting is her passion.