Over three decades, Pardington has gained national and international recognition for her innovative photographs.
From the mid-1980s, she planned and constructed photographic tableaux utilising hand-made frames, toned gelatin silver prints, and often combining collage and visual narratives within the image, mount and frame. Her work is enacted using a female gaze to address sexualities, the body and passion.
Fiona Pardington has received many fellowships, residencies, awards and grants, including the Moët et Chandon Fellowship (France), 1991–92; the Frances Hodgkins Fellowship, 1996 and 1997; the Ngāi Tahu Artist Residency at Otago Polytechnic, 2006; the Quai Branly Laureate award, La Résidence de Photoquai and the Arts Foundation Laureate Award, both in 2011. She is a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit and a Knight (Chevalier) in the Order of Arts and Letters (Chevalier de l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres).