I Too Am In Paradise II
I Too Am in Paradise II is a moving image work that records the organic process of a living sculpture as it grows and decays. This is the second iteration of I Too Am in Paradise, first installed in the open air courtyard of The Dowse Art Museum over the summer of 2016-17. The title is a translation of the renowned seventeen century Nicolas Poussin painting, Et in Arcadia Ego. The installation consisted of a series of unfired clay urns, each bearing this phrase and containing a young kōwhai ngutukākā (kākābeak) plant which at the end of the exhibition, were gifted to members of the community who wanted to participate in its recovery. For I Too Am in Paradise II, Atkinson installed a new grid like series of urns in her garden in Wellington and recorded them over a 10 month period. The urns were placed on cast bases made of red clay sourced from the property and in turn sat on a bed of crushed greywacke collected from the same area.
This time the urns were planted with ngutu kākā mā (white kākābeak), taonga entrusted to the project by East Coast iwi, Ngāi Kohatu (Ngāti Hinehika), who are kaitiaki for this particular species that had long been considered extinct. This plant species was last seen growing on cliffs inland of Wairoa in the 1950s and has been successfully brought back from the brink of extinction through the combined efforts of Ngai Kohatu and the Crown Research Institute, Scion. At Te Reinga Marae these kākābeak are known as Ngutu Kōrako, named after their ancestress, Hinekōrako. The English translation of kōrako is albino.
The stop motion documentation captures the forces of seasonal change. While the ngutu kākā mā grows and builds strength over time; the clay urns decay, changing shape and material structure, slowly returning to the earth.
Kōwhai ngutu kākā plants are found only in New Zealand and are threatened with extinction in the wild. When filming has finished the ngutu kākā mā will be gifted on to Waikereru Ecosanctuary set up for ecological restoration by Prof Dame Anne Salmond and her husband on the Tai Rāwhiti/East Coast of New Zealand.