The Heart Derelict

July 08 - August 02, 2008

Fiona Pardington

Fiona Pardington shows 6 of her 9 mural-size prints from the series "The Heart Derelict" at Jonathan Smart Gallery through July 2008. They speak of the fugitive as something present, past and hauntingly beautiful. A fully illustrated catalogue is now available.

Engari te titi e tangi haere ana - The titi that call as they go
riflemanEngari te titi e tangi haere ana..a,
whai toko rua rawa raua..a.
Tenei ko au nei, e manu..e
kai te hua Kiwi I mahue I te tawai..e
ka toro te rakau kai runga..a
ka hoki mai, ki te pao
ka whai uri ki ahau

Fortunate the titi, as it cries in flight
for it has the company of its mate
as for me, my bird
I am like the egg abandoned by the Kiwi at the tawai roots
that spread and embrace it
and when the mother returns for the hatchling
the progeny is such as I


tuiA tree is felled and a nest has fallen. Eggs broken and cracked, others intact lie scattered on the forest floor. The spindly nest is found in one piece, well-threaded grasses and twigs withstanding the fall. A bird cries, her loss ricocheting from tree to tree.

The Otago Museum is home to numerous native and exotic birds' nests. Found and collected, these nests are classified as ornithological specimens, catalogued alongside examples of extinct birds, others who battle for survival and those that currently thrive. The collection represents New Zealand birdlife, past and present, and while some items are displayed, others are housed in controlled storage for long periods of time, far removed from the forests, shorelines and gardens they once inhabited.

piwakawakaFiona Pardington's study of nests from the Otago Museum collection moves beyond conventional museological descriptions and references. Pardington builds on the information she is given - or in some cases details unknown - to create a profile for these humble nests. From a bird's-eye perspective Pardington photographs her subject, and with empathy awards these taonga a voice, commanding silence so their stories can be heard.

For Pardington, the nest is a transformative place, a mystical space in a constant state of flux. Pardington's nests are not represented as static specimens but rather living forms, breathing and beating, and each unique in character and appearance. Pardington engages in a process of cultural retrieval, and through the lens she bears witness to the essence of taonga.

*Quoted from Mervyn McLean and Margaret Orbell, Songs of a Kaumatua Sung by Kino Hughes, Auckland, 2002, p. 155.

Excerpt from text by Gina Irish, in the catalogue "The Heart Derelict"


Selected works


Pahirinui (chaffinch)

Riroriro (shining cuckoo)

Stephens Island Wren


Huia Architecture

Front Gallery
Tui nest with 4 eggs
Prosthemodera novaeseelandiae
No provenance
Otago Museum

Dunnock's (Hedge Sparrow) nest with a broken egg
Found in a redcurrant bush
Prunella modularis
20.1.93, Wingatui
Otago Museum

Chaffinch's nest with 5 eggs
Found in a grapefruit tree
Fringilla coelebs
Otago Museum

Shining Cuckoo / Riroriro
Shining Cuckoo nestling in a Riroriro / Grey Warbler nest
AV 4552
Dunedin  13.12.68
Otago Museum

Acanthisitta chloris
AV 10290
Rifleman's Nest
Otago Museum

Pied Fantail's nest with an egg
Rhipidura fulginosa
AV 10478
Stewart Island, November 1948
Otago Museum

All works are LED chromogenic prints mounted on dibond.
They measure 1600 x 1200mm mural size;  but each is also available
at 600 x 500mm unframed.   Edition size 5.  From 2005 - 2006.

Back Gallery
Huia Architecture
Male / Female Huia
Canterbury Museum
1050 x 1440mm framed
Silver gelatin print  2/5

Stephens Island Wren
Canterbury Museum
600 x 500mm unframed
Silver gelatin print  1/5

from The Heart Derelict
Acanthisitta chloris
AV 10290
Otago Museum
900 x 760mm framed
Silver gelatin print 3/5
2005 - 2006   

Moon Huia
Female Huia 1269
Whanganui Museum
790 x 870mm framed
Solarised silver gelatin print 
No. 3 in an edition of 5 multiple originals

Ka Koriki Te Manu / The Chorus of Birds
Nga Kau Whakapuke / Zeal
Nestor meridionalis
AV 2024
Canterbury Museum
500 x 600mm  unframed
Silver gelatin print  4/5