A survey exhibition by a leading New Zealand photographer explores sex, death and the female gaze.
This exhibition spans thirty years and brings together more than 100 photographs by one of Aotearoa New Zealand's most important, and most celebrated, photographic artists. Pardington is of Ngāi Tahu descent, and the exhibition ranges from her intimate family portraits to large-scale images of Māori taonga and museum objects held here and in France.
Fiona Pardington’s Still Life with Barley Grass and Freesia, Waiheke
The most magical book I held in my hands as a child was called Ratsmagic, and it belonged to my sister. It was a dark, threatening masterpiece of a picture book, in which a bluebird is kidnapped by a witch, right when she is due to lay her egg. The animals in the valley where she lives whisper to one another “Bluebird is with egg, BLUEBIRD IS WITH EGG” with a fierce and mythological importance. A clever rat is sent to save her from her terrible fate.
Another Big Step Forward
Since mid July we’ve been enjoying the first major exhibition change downstairs. While it was difficult to say goodbye to Unseen and Op + Pop – and to be rid of the colourful castor sugar (some 600kg were required) with which Tanya Schultz made Pip & Pop’s Newest New World – it’s now so rewarding to be the final venue for City Gallery Wellington’s exhibition of Kāi Tahu photographer Fiona Pardington’s A Beautiful Hesitation. Designing the display and augmenting the content of this show for our audiences feels like another big step towards being fully operational.
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.
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).
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)
Death, sex, flesh and the female gaze are among the many themes explored in the Gallery’s newest exhibition, Fiona Pardington: A Beautiful Hesitation.
This article first appeared in The Press on 11 May 2005
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.
Ann Shelton: Dark Matter
An expansive view of Ann Shelton’s tightly conceived, large scale and hyperreal photography
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.’
Aberhart Starts Here
Iconic and unseen early photographs of Christchurch by Laurence Aberhart
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.
Shannon Te Ao: Tēnei Ao Kawa Nei
Tenderness and human longing are revealed in Shannon Te Ao’s award-winning video installations.
The Devil’s Blind Spot: Recent Strategies in New Zealand Photography
Recent photography by an emerging generation of New Zealand artists.
Francis Upritchard: Jealous Saboteurs
Exquisitely imagined, startlingly strange works by an internationally acclaimed New Zealand artist.
Energies: Haines & Hinterding
See, hear, smell and feel the invisible energies that surround us as Australian artists David Haines and Joyce Hinterding summon unseen forces.
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.
Great Britten! A work by Billy Apple
Billy Apple blurs the line between life and art with a new installation that celebrates the triumphant, record-shattering 1995 campaign of the Christchurch-designed Britten V1000 motorbike.
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.
Kamala, Astral and Charlotte, Lyttelton, March 1983
Laurence Aberhart's 1983 photograph of Lyttelton children is displayed on our Gloucester Street billboard.
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.
A generous, multimedia selection of animal-themed works, both lively and thoughtful.
Contemporary works that create subtle openings for connection and contemplation.
A Tale of Two Chiefs
If you have recently visited He Taonga Rangatira: Noble Treasures at the Gallery you will have been struck by Fiona Pardington's two large photographic portraits of lifelike busts of Ngāi tahu tipuna (ancestors).
New Zealand in the Biennale of Sydney and the Biennale of Sydney in New Zealand
and the Biennale of Sydney in New Zealand
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.