Born in Dublin 1938, Pakenham graduated from Queens University in French, Spanish and Philosophy. He has lived in Ibiza and Dorset before returning to Belfast to teach English.
He began to explore painting full time and his early expressionist works evolved as an 'engaged, ferocious response to communal violence' from the outbreak of the 'Troubles'. His recurring motifs of masked, unsettling figures challenge the viewer and suggest gunmen and other elements of violence. Other motifs e.g a ventiloquists dummy, represent both innocent victim and demonic presence.
Pakenham has exhibited widely and is a member of the RUA aswell as the artists organisation at Queen Street Studios.
"Over these years I have tried to convey through a poetic language of metaphor of language, symbol, allegory and ambitious narrative, some of my concerns and anxieties, to use visual language to expose and comment."