Born in Tehran, Persia, she received her formal introduction to art through its history at the University of Warwick, followed by an honours degree in fine art from the Slade (1986-91) and a PhD from the Falmouth Art College. Partou was Artist in Residence at Tate St Ives, 2003-4. From 1993 until her early death from cancer in 2008, she lived and worked in Cornwall.
In her obituary for The Guardian (2008) Professor Penny Florence, who supervised Partou's studies at Falmouth, wrote the following about her friend: 'At her death, Partou was preparing for publication a number of plays, stories and reflections, all of which are formally innovative and written in a clear and original voice. They convey a strong sense of her lightness and charm, and they enrich the understanding of her use of mythological allusion in painting.'
She was married to the artist Richard COOK.