Fiona Pardington is of Maori (Ngāi Tahu, Kati Mamoe and Ngāti Kahungunu) and Scottish (Clan Cameron of Erracht) descent. At the heart of Pardington’s practice is an abiding concern with emotion and affect. A practitioner with over three decades experience as an exhibiting artist, she has explored the on-going capacities of photography by attending to that which is hidden or unseen in the photograph as much as what it may represent. In the late 1980s she was amongst a group of women artists who challenged photography’s social documentary aesthetic, prevalent in the previous decade. She went on to focus on the still-life format, recording Museum taonga (Māori ancestral treasures) and other historic objects such as hei tiki (greenstone pendants) and the now extinct huia bird. In these works, she brings to a contemporary audience an awareness of traditional and forgotten objects. Pardington is renowned for her ability to breathe life force back into these objects and to raise global awareness of the importance of conservation. She interrogates death and celebrates collecting and preservation.
Pardington lives and works in Geraldine on New Zealand’s South Island; in 2017 she was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit and in 2016 named Chevalier de l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Prime Minister, the first New Zealand visual artist to receive this honour. She has been included in important group exhibitions and biennales including:Middle of Now | Here, Honolulu Biennial (2017); lux et tenebris, Momentum Worldwide, Berlin (2014); The Best of Times, The Worst of Times: Rebirth and Apocalypse in Contemporary Art, Kyiv International Biennale (2012) and Ahua: A Beautiful Hesitation: 17th Biennale of Sydney, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney (2010).