• Fiona Pardington

Fiona Pardington is currently showing 'Taku Toi Kahurangi / My Precious Jewel', a selection of photographs of taonga Māori, in the opulent ballroom of 1863 homestead Alberton. For more details about this one-off exhibition, search ALBERTON on ArtNow.

Meanwhile this exhibition, Tiki: Orphans of Māoriland at Starkwhite, features new work from a recent visit Fiona made to London.

When Fiona Pardington found these unusual objects from the Wellcome Collection in London, which are on loan to the Science Museum Group, she was struck by their mystery. Neither taonga, nor mass-produced trinket, they are as difficult to identify as their creators. Acquired from London auction houses, these faux hei-tiki were probably created for the Pākehā or international market – art historian Roger Blackley calls it the ‘curio economy’ – that flourished 1880-1910. ‘Maoriland’ was the poetic name for the romantic late colonial fiction they represent. It is impossible to say whether they were carved by entrepreneurial Māori amateurs, Pākehā enthusiasts (or forgers), or German lapidaries for export back to New Zealand for tourist souvenirs – perhaps all of the above. Pardington felt an affinity with their personality, hybridity and in-betweeness. She re-appropriates and breathes life into them with her camera and reparative vision, giving them dignity as the orphans of a complex history of interaction, exchange and exploitation.

–Andrew Paul Wood, 2019.

The artist thanks the Wellcome Collection | Science Museum Group for their assistance with this project and exhibition.

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