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Kotuku by Caroline Rothwell, commissioned for SCAPE 2002 is now permanently sited at Diana, Lady Isaac’s Christchurch property, Peacock Springs.
The kotuku is the native white heron, a bird that, in Maori culture, symbolises all things beautiful and rare. The saying 'He Kotuku rerenga tahi' refers to the white heron as a bird of single flight - a sight seen perhaps only once in a lifetime.
Inspired by the kotuku from the bird halls at Canterbury Museum, Caroline Rothwell's work floated on a large pond in the Botanic Gardens. For a moment it may have seemed to passers-by as if a heron had landed.
The sculpture was concerned with how light and shade and tricks of visual perspective distort our experience of form. With three birds' heads arising from a single body, Kotuku appeared like a three-dimensional Rorschach inkblot, each side mirroring the other. The result was a haunting and enigmatic work, recognisable as the native heron but also an abstract form ready to engage with the viewer's imagination.