Artist Fiona Pardington talks about her work The Sex of Metals I and II 1989 which features in the exhibition Fiona Pardington: A Beautiful Hesitation, on show at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki from 5 March – 19 June 2016.

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Audio and transcripts available in English and Mandarin. 

Video available in New Zealand Sign Language.

This is one of my earlier works that I am most pleased with, for a number of different reasons. The most important thing I think for me now looking back now will be the colours that you can see in the photographs, the toning in both these images ones more pink, ones more gold. I was using gold toner and you need to use another type of toner before that to prepare for the gold to sit in on top of. 

So these works are kind of simple because they are a visual play on a weather vane that’s broken in two, and its broken into the cock and the arrow so I’ve done what you would expect with the cock and put a man with it and a woman is holding the arrow, the broken part of the arrow facing up towards her head and the fletches over her mons pubis. Behind her you can see ginger flowers just about to sprout or bloom and there’s just the big flat leaves behind the male and he’s twisted around so you can see that he’s got a very large chest and he’s very hairy.

In fact these are very good friends of mine, people that I still know today, who I favoured back then as photography subjects. Warren, the guy, even went as far as to condition all the hair on his chest and stomach so it was nice and shiny for me.  I really appreciate little gestures like that and when I think of the photograph I tend to think about that with a smile.

I think that you can see that I’ve continued that simple male, female gender roles by choosing an old frame with logs on it around the side, a kind of funky, unusual kind of cheesy, but at the same time quite beautiful but extremely hard to get these days, I have to say.

Where-as the woman, Tertia, has very elegant beautiful flowers and leaves and ribbons wrapped around her frame and then there is occult imagery around the sides which is something that I have been interested in all my life, ever since I was very young and it talks about the sex of metals and I think what interested me about this, apart from the fact that everything is gendered in the occult you know planets etc. they all have their genders and their issues and their own kind of characters they are all anthropomorphised. So that was important to me and I was just looking kind of cheekily at that kind of thing and trying to make the work look complex because I wanted people to think very much about how gender and how those king of generalisations about sex and sexuality had permeated right through almost all of our consciousness and thinking even into the occult and astronomy and absolutely everything.