There are only 124 Kakapo birds left in the world. Native to New Zealand, the Kakapo is the world's heaviest, flightless parrot, and it is critically endangered. There are so few birds that every Kakapo has a name. To me, 124 sounds like an almost impossibly-small number. But it is actually a wonderful improvement: in the 1970s, there were only 18 birds.
To celebrate the recovery of the Kakapos from near-extinction, as well as the resilience and unity of the people of Christchurch, New Zealand, after the devastating earthquakes they have suffered, Melbourne-based "guerilla kindness" artist Sayraphim Lothian is planning a unique public art project in March.
"I will travel to Christchurch to install a number of soft sculpture Kakapos around the city. These birds are then left for the people to find and move, hide, remove, adopt or throw away," she says.
The project, called Journey - The Kakapo of Christchurch, is about "recovering communities, helping hands, and of being surprised by joy."
Sayraphim contacted Kakapo Recovery, a conservation group organisation dedicated to saving the Kakapos from extinction, to tell them about her project. "Wouldn't it be great," they said, "if you made 124 of them, one for each Kakapo alive today?"
So that's what she is going to do. Sayraphim will spend the next two months making 124 Kakapos, then leave them for the people of Christchurch to find. "Part participatory art project, part game, part scavenger hunt and part social media check in, Journey invites people to get involved with an art project on a very personal level," she explains.
The two-week art installation will also be supported by free craft workshops on two weekends.
Sayraphim has launched a Pozible project to raise the funds she needs for bird-making materials, flights, accommodation, publicity, and materials for the free craft workshops. If you'd like to take a look or help her out, go here (there are some pretty special rewards for people who donate, too).
ps. If Sayraphim's name sounds familiar, that's because I featured another of her "guerilla kindness" projects in Melbourne here.