Make a big difference to The Big Idea.

Help us tell the most creative stories.

Become a supporter

Largest ever Fiona Pardington Exhibition at City Gallery

Death, sex, flesh and the female gaze are among the many themes explored in City Gallery’s new exhibition, Fiona Pardington: A Beautiful Hesitation. The exhibition, from 22 August, brings togethe


Death, sex, flesh and the female gaze are among the many themes explored in City Gallery’s new exhibition, Fiona Pardington: A Beautiful Hesitation. The exhibition, from 22 August, brings together over 100 photographs— a comprehensive survey of work spanning 30 years. It reveals the key concerns that have shaped the work of one of our most important, and most celebrated, photographers.

Pardington describes photography as a “hesitation in time”. She uses its disruptive power to unsettle our understanding of the world. “Taking a photograph is like tilting at windmills. It’s taking on the universe,” she says. The exhibition ranges from intimate family portraits, made at Elam art school in the mid-1980s, to the expansive projects involving objects and taonga from museum collections here and in France. 

Harnessing the power of photography to breathe life into the objects she encounters, Pardington’s subject matter is diverse, often subversive or confronting. The exhibition also tracks her use of different photographic processes. An expert in analogue hand-printing, Pardington has fully embraced the possibilities of the digital to work on a large scale and to enter new conceptual territories.

Curator Aaron Lister has divided the exhibition into four sections across all three downstairs galleries. He says A Beautiful Hesitation will broaden viewers’ understanding of the photographer’s work, “Pardington has continually expanded and redefined the parameters of her medium in Aotearoa and beyond”.

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. This 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 proof sheets destined for soft-core magazines.  The medical suite series, from the show Tainted Love, re-photographs images of disease from medical textbooks. In all of her works, the personal and political—and ways of looking and being—are forcefully intertwined.

Fiona Pardington (b. 1961) is of Scottish (Clan Cameron of Erracht) and Maori (Kai Tahu, Kati Mamoe, Ngati Kahungunu) descent. She has a Doctorate in Fine Arts, University of Auckland. In 2011, the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery hosted her solo exhibition, The Pressure of Sunlight Falling, with an accompanying book published by Otago University Press. That year, Pardington became an Arts Foundation Laureate and completed a Laureate Artistic Creations Project with Musee du Quai Branly, Paris. Residencies include the Moet et Chandon Fellowship (Epernay, 1991–92), Frances Hodgkins Fellowship (Dunedin, 1996 and 1997) and Ngai Tahu Artist in Residence at the Otago Polytechnic-Te Kura Matatini ki Otago (Dunedin, 2006). Pardington’s work has featured in many City Gallery group exhibitions, including Tender Is the Night (2011),Cultural Safety (1996) Alter/Image (1993) and Imposing Narratives (1989). International shows include Fragments of Empires Momentum (Berlin, 2014), the Ukraine Biennale (2012) and the Biennale of Sydney (2010).

A Beautiful Hesitation has been developed in association with Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki and Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu. It will be presented in Auckland and Christchurch through 2016 and be accompanied by a book bringing together new and classic writings on the artist’s work, published by Victoria University Press. Fiona Pardington is represented by Starkwhite, Auckland. 

Fiona Pardington: A Beautiful Hesitation, 22 August – 22 November 2015 | FREE | 

Media enquiries and images: Olivia Lacey, Publicist 04 801 4258, 021 022 40312

Further information: 

Media enquiries and images: Olivia Lacey, Publicist 

Contact details: 
04 801 4258, 021 022 40312

Written by

City Gallery Wellington

8 Jul 2015

Interests City Gallery Wellington is a dynamic cultural presence in the capital city of Aotearoa New Zealand.