Fiona Pardington

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1961
Kāi Tahu, Kāti Māmoe, Ngāti Kahungunu, Māori, Clan Cameron, Scottish

The Charlotte Jane

  • 2009
  • C-type photograph
  • Purchased, 2009
  • 1500 x 2100mm
  • 2009/027

Fiona Pardington photographed this treasured glass model at Canterbury Museum, where it is currently on display. It was made by local glass blower John Rowe in 1950 to commemorate a century of European settlement in the Waitaha Canterbury region. The Charlotte Jane was one of the ‘first four ships’ that carried the European settlers to Christchurch, and its depiction here raises issues of colonisation for Ngāi Tahu Māori. Pardington depicts the Charlotte Jane as a ‘ghost ship’ – a fragile and ethereal phantom of the past whose image persists in the present.

(Now, Then, Next: Time and the Contemporary, 15 June 2019 – 8 March 2020)

Exhibition History

earlier labels about this work
  • Brought to light, November 2009- 22 February 2011

    In September 1850 more than 150 settlers left England for Canterbury, New Zealand, aboard the Charlotte Jane. A century later a Christchurch glass-blower called John Rowe, a descendant of one of those passengers, recreated the ship as a scale model. The model is now in the collection of Canterbury Museum, where it was photographed recently by Fiona Pardington. In this new incarnation, floating in a black void, the Charlotte Jane has become a ghost ship – at once imposing and skeletal, beautiful and fragile.

  • Ship songs, 3 September 2016 – 6 February 2017

    Fiona Pardington’s photograph offers a contemporary Kāi Tahu perspective of the Charlotte Jane in blown glass. Representations of any ship from this period trigger notions of colonisation for Kāi Tahu (the principal Māori iwi or tribe of the southern region of New Zealand, also referred to as Ngāi Tahu), so the respect shown to the object by Pardington is a sensitive consideration to those who share her story. The Charlotte Jane is rendered as a romanticised phantom – a fragile beauty suspended in a void-like space. The model she photographed was made by John Rowe, himself a descendant of a passenger aboard the Charlotte Jane, some 100 years after the ship’s arrival. Pardington’s photograph expresses her adoration of his hand-blown glass work. (Ship Songs, 3 September 2016 – 6 February 2017)