Crafty Kakapo an exhibition of kindness

21:30, Feb 02 2014

Christchurch is going to the birds in an arts project that will temporarily double the country's kakapo population.

Melbourne's Sayraphim Lothian is sewing and stuffing 124 miniatures of the critically endangered native parrot to be hidden around the city from March 14-23 in a "guerrilla kindness" project.

The artist, who has work held in New York's MOMA gallery and whose "craftivism" has also graced the streets of London, Paris, Bristol and Sydney, says "I'm just trying to make the world a nicer place, one handcrafted piece at a time".

People will be encouraged to keep the birds, redistribute them, or share their travels via social media.

Lothian, 37, has been obsessed with kakapo since she read Douglas Adam's Last Chance to See, about species on the brink of extinction, as a teen.

She's never visited Christchurch, but says "my heart went out - I couldn't fathom that kind of thing" when she watched coverage of the city's earthquakes.

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She approached the Kakapo Recovery team after deciding on the project and, at its suggestion, set out to replicate the bird's real life population-size.

"The most I've ever made for a similar project is 30; 124 is quite the leap!"

The birds are crafted from op- shopped clothes and recycled 1970s curtains.

"I don't think finding a kakapo is going to fix all the world's problems. I'm just looking to brighten a day.

"When you go to work, and you're looking at grey buildings, or staring at the pavement trying not to step in gum, something like this just jolts you . . . it's the art equivalent of fairies in the bottom of the garden . . . the next stranger you see you'll smile at, or you won't go home and kick the cat."

The $5500 initiative, which includes free craft workshops, is being crowdfunded via Pozible.com and is supported by Christchurch's Gap Filler organisation which aims to fill temporarily vacant sites with creative projects.

Sunday Star Times