Fiona Pardington

The Contemporary Benefactors enjoyed an afternoon with Fiona Pardington and Auckland Art Gallery Senior Curator New Zealand and Pacific Art, Ron Brownson.

Fiona Pardington with Ron Brownson, 5 April 2016
Fiona Pardington discusses her photograph We Dream of Gentle Morpheus (2011)

During the exclusive interview we were lucky to get an insight into Fiona’s work and the in-depth research and preparation that goes into each photograph. Fiona kept us entertained with her wit, intelligence and passion. We heard about her voracious appetite for reading and how trips to the museum with her beloved Grandmother Dorothy, had stirred her interest in Museums and objects. Fiona walked us through the exhibition Fiona Pardington: A Beautiful Hesitation, which is currently showing at the Auckland Art Gallery. Behind each photo there is a story from the Kea found on the side of the road (David Kea Wings (2015), the luck in finding old, crushed silk flowers at the Porte de Clingancourt flea market in Paris which she steamed back into life, (Stuart Cameron’s Rose 2011) to the peculiar and macabre objects found at various Museums in Paris, which feature in We Dream of Gentle Morpheus (2011).

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Davis Kea Wings (above) 2015 


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Stuart Cameron’s Rose 2011

Ron Brownson asked Fiona about the title “A Beautiful Hesitation”. Fiona answered, “I pick up titles like things off the side of the road. I will look at groups of words in a quote and take them out of context and find meaning in them”. She described photography’s power to pause time and transcend the conditions of the material world. Her practice breathes life into the objects she encounters. As Brownson says “you have breathed oxygen into those casts” as she has done for all her photographs.

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We Dream of Gentle Morpheus 2011

There are more than 100 photographs on display in the Fiona Pardington: A Beautiful Hesitation at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki. A Beautiful Hesitation is a comprehensive presentation of 30 years of Fiona Pardington’s practice. Revealing the key elements that have helped to shape her work, the exhibition celebrates one of New Zealand’s most notable photographers.

An extract from the beautiful new book Published by Victoria University Press in association with Baker+Douglas and in conjunction with City Gallery Wellington and Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, Fiona Pardington: A Beautiful Hesitation


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Published by Victoria University in association with Baker & Douglas, 2016
Taking a photograph is like tilting at windmills. It’s taking on the universe.  Fiona Pardington

Fiona Pardington considers each of her photographs to be ‘a sovereign world’, offering an uneasy, dream-like experience akin to being placed under hypnotic suggestion. She uses the phrase ‘a beautiful hesitation’ to describe photography’s power to arrest time and to alter our relationship with what it both places under our gaze and keeps from it. A Beautiful Hesitation is the most comprehensive survey of Pardington’s work to date spanning thirty years of her practice. It delves deeply into the photographer’s archive presenting many of her early images for the first time. These photographs bring forth challenging, disarming and affecting views of Aotearoa New Zealand.

From an analogue process of exquisitely realised black and white images to digital photographs that are rich with colour, Pardington’s oeuvre traverses themes from the spirituality that underpins Māori customs and the metaphysical world to sexual and cultural politics. Her cornerstones are the abject, the discarded, the precious and the wounded, and the deep ties she maintains with her Kāi Tahu heritage.

The book Fiona Pardington: A Beautiful Hesitation is available at the gallery shop or through the Baker Douglas website . Alongside the images are newly commissioned essays by: Aaron Lister, Hana O’Regan, Susan Best, Kriselle Baker, Zara Stanhope, Ron Brownson and Peter Shand.  Also included are a substantial interview by Andrew Paul Wood and an archive section of significant earlier texts.

If members would like Fiona to sign a copy of the book, we are happy to arrange it. Please email


About Fiona Pardington
Fiona Pardington (b.1961) is of Scottish (Clan Cameron of Erracht) and Māori (Kāi Tahu, Kāti Māmoe, or Ngāti kahungunu) descent. Her work is held in major public collections in Aotearoa New Zealand and abroad, including Musée du Quai Branly, Paris and the National Gallery Canada, Ottawa. Pardington has exhibited widely throughout Australasia and beyond, including the 17th Biennale of Sydney (2010) and the Ukraine Biennale (2012). She has completed the requirements for a Doctor of Fine Arts from the University of Auckland and has received many fellowships and residences, including Moët & Chandon Fellowship (France) in 1991-1992, the Frances Hodgkins Fellowship at the University of Otago in 1996 and 1997,the Kāi Tahu Residency at Otago Polytecnic in 2006. In 2001, Pardington became an Art Foundation Laureate. She is represented by Starkwhite, Auckland.

For More Information:
Anthony Bryt wrote an article in Metro 1 March 2016 about Fiona and the exhibition.







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