Journey The Kakapo of Christchurch
The Kakapo is the world’s heaviest, flightless parrot. It’s native to New Zealand and it’s currently critically endangered. In the 70s the Kakapo was almost wiped out – only 18 remained. Since then, the Kakapo has been on its own journey of healing thanks to a conservation group called Kakapo Recovery. Even though the Kakapo is still endangered, there are now there are 124 birds alive and well in the wild. Each one has a name – like Sirocco, the Kakapo Recovery program ambassador and official New Zealand Spokesbird for conservation.
When the artist contacted the Kakapo Recovery team about this project, they were very excited and asked how many were planned for the project. “Wouldn’t it be great,” they wrote in an email, “if you made 124 of them, one for each Kakapo alive today?” How could I turn that idea down?
So from the 13 – 23 of March 2014, I traveled to Christchurch to install a 124 soft sculpture Kakapo around the city. These birds were then left for the people to find and move, hide, remove, adopt or throw away. Part participatory art project, part game, part scavenger hunt and part social media check in, Journey invited people to get involved with an art project on a very personal level.
Running parallel to this installation were be free public craft workshops over two weekends, supported by Gap Filler and presented in their Pallet Pavilion, where the general public were invited to make their own Kakapo to keep or to install on the streets for themselves as a gift for others. These workshops offered a simple felt Kakapo pattern with local crafters on hand to help if needed.
The response from the people of Christchurch and from the Kakapo adopters was just amazing.