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Fiona Pardington My Mother's Roses, Pomegranates and Plastic Bottles, Ripiro Beach 2013. Pigment inks on Hahnemühle paper. Image courtesy of the artist and Starkwhite, Auckland

Fiona Pardington My Mother's Roses, Pomegranates and Plastic Bottles,
Ripiro Beach 2013. Pigment inks on Hahnemühle paper. Image courtesy of the artist and Starkwhite, Auckland

Largest ever Fiona Pardington exhibition opens in Christchurch

Exhibition

Death, sex, flesh and the female gaze are among the many themes explored in the Gallery’s newest exhibition, Fiona Pardington: A Beautiful Hesitation.

The exhibition brings together more than 100 photographs as a comprehensive survey of Pardington’s work spanning 30 years.

'It reveals the key concerns that have shaped the creativity of one of New Zealand’s most important photographers,' says Deputy Director Blair Jackson.

The exhibition ranges from intimate family portraits to expansive projects involving objects and taonga from museum collections in New Zealand and France. It also tracks Pardington’s use of different photographic processes, from expertly produced analogue hand-printings through to large-scale digital works.

'A Beautiful Hesitation will broaden viewers’ understanding and appreciation for Pardington’s significant and highly celebrated work,' adds Jackson.

Working with the seasons, Pardington’s recent still-lifes incorporate materials salvaged from beaches, riverbeds, second-hand stores and the side of the road — all with deep personal and cultural meanings.

The salvaging of found objects and images runs throughout her art practice. The One Night of Love series re-presents photographs of female nudes taken from a found cache of magazine proof-sheets. The medical suite series, from Tainted Love, re-photographs images of disease from medical textbooks.

Specific bodies of work hold particular relevance to Pardington’s Māori descent and to Christchurch history, including photographed shell specimens originally collected in the 1920s as part of a study into traditional Ngāi Tahu food sources. Childish Things, photographed at Canterbury Museum, represents fragments of letters written by an immigrant child, Arthur Barker, who arrived in Canterbury aboard the Charlotte Jane in 1850.

A new acquisition, Still Life with Wild Wheat and Freesias, Waiheke, will be exhibited at the Gallery for the first time, along with Pardington’s very recent Flora_Unicorn, from a series of photographs which she describes as 'impossible objects'.

A Beautiful Hesitation has been developed in association with Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki and City Gallery Wellington by curator Aaron Lister. It has been presented in both Auckland and Wellington, and is accompanied by a book bringing together new and classic writings on the artist’s work, published by Victoria University Press.

Related

Exhibition
Fiona Pardington: A Beautiful Hesitation

Fiona Pardington: A Beautiful Hesitation

A survey exhibition by a leading New Zealand photographer explores sex, death and the female gaze.

Collection
Believe
Fiona Pardington Believe

Believe, urges Fiona Pardington’s photograph. The word isn’t easy to read, and takes some work to decipher, written as it is in laborious Victorian copperplate, and initially misspelled—the missing es have been inserted later as corrections. Unreadable fragments of other words surround it. Pardington has zeroed in on a single word in a larger document—and the context of that historical document is important—but when we first encounter it, it’s simply as a statement, or perhaps a gentle instruction, which speaks directly to the contemporary viewer: Believe.

The word appears in a letter written by a boy named Arthur Llewellyn Barker in Christchurch to his uncle back in England, during the 1860s. Arthur was a son of Dr A. C. Barker, the ship’s surgeon on board the first British colonial ship to reach Christchurch, the Charlotte Jane. Dr Barker was also known for his photographs of early Christchurch; with Believe and the other works in the series titled Childish Things, Pardington forges a link back to Barker as a kind of local artist-ancestor.

Pardington says of her encounter with Arthur’s letters: “I had an aching feeling in my bones, for the land, the birds impacted by the Pākehā kids and their guns, gulls and adventures. I could feel their father standing there with his camera, and marvelled at the wobbly copperplate words giving a rare and earnest view into a child's world in the Christchurch bush. […] We read in these children's stories to their uncle a softly reflected, innocently faceted view of important men looking for moa, the siblings finding puffballs and rowboats, and their father taking photographs.”

(Your Hotel Brain 13 May 2017 - 8 July 2018)

Commentary
Representing Women: Ann Shelton’s Dark Matter

Representing Women: Ann Shelton’s Dark Matter

What is ‘dark matter’? For theoretical physicists it is matter that cannot be directly observed but whose existence is nevertheless scientifically calculable –  productively present yet simultaneously invisible. In a similar vein, the everyday phrase ‘dark matter’ describes objects, conditions and situations that harbour unease or trauma. Trauma that is often concealed, repressed, or buried. Both definitions are active in Ann Shelton’s mid-career review exhibition Dark Matter, and they provide a rich point of entry into this compelling collection of her photographic work. These are photographs that bristle with intensity and refuse to let their subjects die a quiet archival death.

Exhibition
Ann Shelton: Dark Matter

Ann Shelton: Dark Matter

An expansive view of Ann Shelton’s tightly conceived, large scale and hyperreal photography

Commentary
Laurence Aberhart

Laurence Aberhart

New Zealand artist Laurence Aberhart is internationally regarded for his photographs of unpeopled landscapes and interiors. He photographs places redolent with the weight of time, which he captures with his century-old large-format camera and careful framing. But he’s always taken more spontaneous photographs of people too, particularly in the years he lived in Christchurch and Lyttelton (1975–83) when he photographed his young family, his friends and occasionally groups of strangers. ‘If I lived in a city again,’ he says, ‘I would photograph people. One of the issues is that I even find it difficult to ask people whether I can photograph a building, so to ask to photograph them – I’m very reticent. I also know that after a number of minutes of waiting for me to set cameras up and take exposure readings and so on, people can get rather annoyed. So it’s not a conscious thing, it’s more just an accident of the way I photograph.’

Exhibition
Aberhart Starts Here

Aberhart Starts Here

Iconic and unseen early photographs of Christchurch by Laurence Aberhart

Artist Profile
The Devil’s Blind Spot

The Devil’s Blind Spot

Te Puna o Waiwhetū Christchurch Art Gallery has a long-standing tradition of curating exhibitions of emerging and early-career artists. We do this in order to contribute to the ecology of the local art world, as well as because – quite straightforwardly – we’re interested in the practices of artists at all stages of their careers, and would like to bring the work of outstanding younger artists to wider public attention. The Devil’s Blind Spot is the latest in this ongoing series, but unlike earlier exhibitions, it’s concerned with a single medium – photography.

Exhibition
The Devil’s Blind Spot: Recent Strategies in New Zealand Photography

The Devil’s Blind Spot: Recent Strategies in New Zealand Photography

Recent photography by an emerging generation of New Zealand artists.

Commentary
The Camera as a Place of Potential

The Camera as a Place of Potential

To Māori, the colour black represents Te Korekore – the realm of potential being, energy, the void, and nothingness. The notion of potential and the presence of women are what I see when I peek at Fiona Pardington’s 1997 work Moko. And I say peek deliberately, because I am quite mindful of this work – it is downright spooky. Moko is a photographic rendering of a seeping water stain upon the blackboard in Pardington’s studio, taken while she was the recipient of the Frances Hodgkins Fellowship in Dunedin in 1997.

Exhibition
Joyce Campbell: Flightdream

Joyce Campbell: Flightdream

Joyce Campbell’s immersive video work takes the viewer on a journey into the ocean’s fathomless depths, exploring processes of creation and annihilation.

Commentary
The Lines That Are Left

The Lines That Are Left

Of landscape itself as artefact and artifice; as the ground for the inscribing hand of culture and technology; as no clean slate.

— Joanna Paul

The residential Red Zone is mostly green. After each house is demolished, contractors sweep up what is left, cover the section with a layer of soil and plant grass seed. Almost overnight, driveway, yard, porch, garage, shed and house become a little paddock; the border of plants and trees outlining it the only remaining sign that there was once a house there.

Exhibition
Kamala, Astral and Charlotte, Lyttelton, March 1983

Kamala, Astral and Charlotte, Lyttelton, March 1983

Laurence Aberhart's 1983 photograph of Lyttelton children is displayed on our Gloucester Street billboard.

My Favourite
Selwyn Toogood, Levin

Selwyn Toogood, Levin

I spent much of my adolescence in hospital, confined to bed due to a chronic illness. With a 14" TV beside me, I’d travel to imaginary places via the controller of my Nintendo games console. At the time, I couldn’t imagine walking to the letterbox, let alone experiencing the more exotic places of the world.

Exhibition
Beasts

Beasts

A generous, multimedia selection of animal-themed works, both lively and thoughtful.

Article
Taryn Simon's known unknowns

Taryn Simon's known unknowns

In 2003, the American photographer Taryn Simon embarked upon a four-year heart-of-darkness journey. In response to paranoid rumours of WMDs and secret sites in Iraq, she turned her gaze to places and things hidden within her own country.

Exhibition
Laurence Aberhart: Nature Morte

Laurence Aberhart: Nature Morte

Nature Morte is an exhibition of 105 photographs, taken between 1971 and 1989 by New Zealand photographer Laurence Aberhart.