Auckland Art Gallery's new must see exhibition

Celebrated New Zealand artist Fiona Pardington is currently showcasing her art at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, presenting an insightful look into 30 years of her practice until June, a great opportunity for visitors to explore her multi-layered body of work. Initially apprehensive preparing the exhibition, Fiona has now welcomed the opportunity to unveil some of her most cherished photography. Remix writer Fiona Connor spoke to the artist Fiona ahead of the opening about her journey so far.

Have you always been creatively inclined and when did you first realise you wanted to pursue art?
I made the decision when I was about six that I wanted to be an artist. I had no idea whether I would be successful at it. It seems to be more about total commitment and it has become so much of my identity. I know it is pretty hard to succeed in the business so I’m grateful I’ve got this far, because it means I get up and do what I want to do. The only person really cracking the whip is my assistant or myself, so it’s awesome.

Do you feel an internal pressure to be successful? 
Totally, I’ve got that. And it builds. I’m the kind of person that has lots of different projects at different stages. I have lots of ideas kind of bubbling along in my head and each of them have their own nature and their own process, but you can’t do them before you’re ready so I rely a lot on omens and synchronicity of things to know when I should be doing things. I don’t have much faith in the rest of my life, but I have the faith in my work and to produce work. The internal pressure is something I really enjoy.

Auckland Art Gallery

What challenges do you face as an artist in new zealand and how do you overcome them?
My attitude is ‘fuck what everybody else thinks’ so I just do what I want to do. You have to be strong-minded. The only people I can think of that need everyone to like them or their ideas and have to be accepted by everybody are fascists. My idea is that my work is going to relate to some people and not others and I accept that and work with what I have. The work isn’t about me taking ideas and shoving them down people’s throats; it’s about people taking the work and going and doing stuff with it themselves. It’s about their journey and their meaning and it’s true that I want to communicate with people. If my work can galvanise something in them through their experiences of life then I think that’s quite enough as an artist to be satisfied about.

What body of work do you feel most proud of?
I’m really only interested in the work I’m about to make. I can’t be too attached to the physical side of the practice. I leave that to other people to decide what they like. The thing any artist needs to avoid is getting overly attached to certain bodies of work because then you start asking if your next work will be as good. The more successful you get the easier it is to be a lazy bitch or to rest on your laurels or to believe the hype. You can’t believe any of the hype. I’m really not interested in people telling me how fabulous I am because I’m glad they think that but there’s no place for that in the real world. As long as my kids like me and my parents like me and my animals like me, then I’m happy. One thing though, I did pass on a piece of artwork that meant a lot to me to a very sick woman and when she passed away it meant a lot to her family. For me that’s probably the most awesome thing; it was an awful situation but my work managed to help them.

How did ‘a beautiful hesitation’ come to fruition and what can we expect?
It’s a survey show so it’s one of those things you try to avoid like the plague in New Zealand, because it’s such a small place
and it’s like digging a grave for yourself and throwing yourself in. You only get one survey show and people think it’s been in the pipeline for a while. I was in no hurry as we sorted details to get it the way I wanted
it because you have to take it seriously. Basically what I did was make a show that wasn’t like the greatest hits, because I didn’t want to bore the shit out of myself. The book that goes with it is really interesting because it explores different aspects of my practice and the depth of the research.

Fiona Pardington: A Beautiful Hesitation is on at Auckland Art Gallery until 19th June 2016. Head here for more info