In a rare honor, photographer Fiona pardington will be named a Knight (Chevalier) in the Order of Arts and Letters (Chevalier de l'ordre des Arts et des Lettres) by the French Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, in a ceremony at the Auckland War Memorial Museum on 1 May.
She is the first New Zealand visual artist to receive this honour, which recognises eminent artists and writers who have contributed significantly to furthering the arts in France and throughout the world. Other recipients include Sir Peter Jackson (who will also be named at the ceremony on 1 May), George Clooney, Olafur Eliasson, Hou Hanru, Cate Blanchette, Uma Thurman, Tim Burton, Rudolf Nureyev and William S. Burroughs.
Pardington is receiving the award for her extraordinary, in-depth photographic work and research of the collections held in multiple French museums, recognized also in 2009 when she was awarded the Quai Branly Laureate award, La Residence de Photoquai.
During her Laureate, which she completed in 2010, she created several bodies of work from the various museum collections, the most renowned being The Pressure of Sunlight Falling were she photographed the casts taken by French phrenologist Dumoutier who was on board Dumont d'Urville's voyage through the Pacific in 1837-1840.
Fiona Pardington, Portrait of a life-cast of Matoua Tawai (right profile), Aoteroa/New Zealand 20101, courtesy of the Musee de l'Homme, Paris