The illustrations in that story have the same lustre and pooling darkness at the edges as Pardington’s work does. Bluebird’s egg has the same soft saturation as the ones in this piece, and every detail of flora and fauna on every page of the book is alive inside, yet held still, as if it might exhale the moment that you glance away. In the end, the egg is hatched at last, and seems to carry all the world inside it – a frighteningly beautiful, violent and solemn image. All life there, in all forms; beginning and ending. My sister and I turned the pages of that book again and again, seeking out the hidden corners in the images; the tiny details and outlines and quiet reveals.
To me, the greatest kind of magic is when you can’t be sure if what you see belongs to the your mind’s eye, or has been conjured there by someone else. The consciousness of an artist can slip in beside your own, and make a nest there; images imprint and are shared back and forth. Your memory of a place or an object becomes imbued with others you have been shown, or have sought out.
I look at this photograph and a hundred thousand memories of quiet rooms and dust and sunlight and stories and danger rush to my eyes and all through my blood. It is part of a narrative that goes on inside me; furniture added to rooms, little details touched again and again.
Many years later, when my sister became pregnant with her daughter, I was the first person she told. A message came in the early afternoon of a dark winter’s day that simply read: “Bluebird is with egg.”
Fiona Pardington: A Beautiful Hesitation
A survey exhibition by a leading New Zealand photographer explores sex, death and the female gaze.
Beyond The Fields We Know
In the canons of received taste, the unicorn figurine doesn’t rank terribly highly beyond kitsch. Sitting in your hand, it’s cutesy, twee, trivial and quaint (though a piece of master-worked Venetian glass from Murano is a pricey and collectable item).
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.