Eight Shells

Fiona Pardington
March 5 - May 21, 2005
Whakai-o-tama, Temuka Tuaki, Rapaki Mactra ovata Grey 1843.

Fiona's work is smaller than her brother's, Neil Pardington, traditionally exposed and then gold-toned in the darkroom.

There is a sense of romance in these still lives - in raising up humble pipi and cockle shells to larger-than-life scrutiny. It touches the shell-gatherer present in us all. The basis of this body of work (as has been Fiona's habit recently), is the re-presentation of extant collections - interrogating notions of display, including scrutiny of what is actually on display.

In "Eight Shells", she turns her attention to the Herries-Beattie collection in the Humanities Dept of the Otago Museum. In re-photographing or re-recording this collection, Pardington draws our attention to the original cataloguing of the shells - itself a bicultural double- act, where museum classification numbers sit heavily beneath the lighter hand of an old aunty from Rapaki, whose noting the different Maori names for each shell across Aotearoa/New Zealand represents the first local descriptions of each species. In the exhibition list, Pardington adds the Latin genus, followed by the identity and date of that order's first observation by a European here. Each shell then, gathers its own rich and varied catalogue of existence - a register of similarity and difference spanning cultures over considerable time.

Caught in gentle light against their simple black grounds, these eight little shells are full of definition: tonally they are subtle and beautiful; while visually they are also resonant with history


Selected works

1. *D63.29
Kopa, Akaroa
Pecten novaezelandiae
Reeve 1853
4. *D63.31
Spisula aequilateralis
Deshayes 1854.
2. *D63.32
Taiwhatiwhati or Roroa = Otago
Paphies australis
Gemelin 1790. &*D63.28
Pipi North Island Roroa South Island
Paphies australis
Gemelin 1790.
5. *D63.22
Patiki in Nelson
Dosinia anus
Philippi 1848. &*D63.21
Toheroa in North Island
Dosinia anus Philippi 1848.
3. *D63.26
Kaikai karoro in Nelson
Taiwhatiwhati, Kaiapoi (?) Tellina gaimardi
Iredale 1915.
6. *D63.30
Whakai-o-tama, Temuka
Tuaki, Rapaki Mactra ovata
Grey 1843.

All works are gold-toned gelatin silver photographs, from 2005, in an edition of 5.

Shells from the Herries-Beattie Collection, in the Otago Museum - as seen in "Lifeways of the Southern Maori" By James Herries-Beattie, Otago Museum Ethnological Project, 1920.