Fiona Pardington has been making photographs for more than 35 years. This exhibition, Supernatural
, is her eleventh solo since Exquisite Corpse
, the first show we presented together in June, 1989.
l as an idea is pretty self-explanatory, with Pardington exploring nature upsized and eerie, or simply drop-dead beautiful touched with a playful sense of fantasy. Each work’s title is a list or catalogue of the main objects in the still life. Take the invite image, Still Life with Lake Hawea Wai, Ihumoana and Seaweed
, for example. Instead of fruit, meat and bowls (the typical fare of European still life), we get bull kelp and man’o’war jellyfish – objects in the main, that she has picked up off the beach. Though this is life stilled by the camera, it does look like a distinctly Aotearoa/New Zealand riff on the still life genre. From the ferns etched into the sides of the decanter, to the golden kowhai seeds and rich paua colourings that loom out of the darkness, we stand before a contemporary wiccan noir. The body feminine in the fabric nurtures a stem of handsome but broken bull kelp. Threads abound. A strong, very real sense of life force, of mauri, merges with something other wordly, with something fantastic and fanciful. The whole feels truly, madly, deeply supernatural.
The photograph was made during her McCahon Residency, where given the genesis and very nature of that opportunity, Pardington would have reflected on her place and the place of the artist in New Zealand, both currently and in the context of a rich past. Fashioning identity from many different histories has proven fertile ground for Fiona Pardington. And this focus continues; for she is right now in Geneva and then Boston, to photograph the Nabakov collections, including famously the Lepidoptera.
Press release courtesy Jonathan Smart Gallery.