TIKI: Orphans of Māoriland

TIKI: Orphans of Māoriland

Fiona Pardington

Starkwhite
510 Karangahape Road, Auckland

12 June - 11 July, 2019

Opening 5.30pm, Wednesday 12 June

Conversation: Fiona Pardington and Starkwhite Director, John McCormack
2.00pm, Saturday 15 June at Starkwhite.

Fiona Pardington,  A131837 , 2019, pigment inks on Hahnemuhle Photo Rag

Fiona Pardington, A131837, 2019, pigment inks on Hahnemuhle Photo Rag

When Fiona Pardington found these unusual objects from the London Wellcome Collection, on loan to the city's 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.
Dr Andrew Paul Wood, May 2019

The exhibition is accompanied by an essay from R T Rickit, Drifting Stone.

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