“I Too Am in Paradise is a series of unfired clay urns, each bearing the phrase “Et in Arcadia ego” and containing a young kōwhai ngutukākā (kakabeak) plant.
Using the title of this renowned seventeenth century Nicolas Poussin painting, the words act as a momento mori, or a reminder of our mortality. I Too Am in Paradise is a living sculpture and will undergo an organic process while installed in The Dowse open air courtyard this summer. Depending on both the weather conditions and the type of care that the plants receive, the kōwhai ngutukākā will continue to grow and the unfired porcelain clay will gradually decay.
Kōwhai ngutu kākā plants are found only in New Zealand and all species that exist are threatened with extinction. They were originally used by Māori for gifting and trade and as these urns naturally degrade, the plants will be gifted to people in the community who would like to participate in the recovery of kōwhai ngutukākā.” The Dowse