Proud of Your Lockdown Baking? This Man Built a Giant Kookaburra


SYDNEY, Australia — Some have taken to baking to while away the hours during coronavirus lockdown; others embraced gardening. For Farvardin Daliri, it was the perfect opportunity to complete his magnum opus: a 15-foot-tall replica of a bird known as a laughing kookaburra.

He said he just wanted to cheer people up in these gloomy times.

“If a bird can laugh, why not me?” said Mr. Daliri, 65, who unveiled his work this week by towing the kookaburra, a beloved Australian icon, around his block in suburban Brisbane, where it cackled its distinctive laugh through a sound system installed inside.

He posted video of his project online without much thought. To his shock, it went viral, hailed by some as a perfect antidote for this moment. Others were simply confused.

“Surely there are medals we can give out for something as grand as this,” one Twitter user said. Another asked: “This amazing. Also, why?”

The kookaburra was intended for an arts festival, the Townsville Cultural Fest, which Mr. Daliri helps organize as executive director of the city’s Intercultural Center. It’s just his latest whopping work. He has also made a 15-foot-tall koala, a 200-foot-long carpet snake and a 33-foot-long crocodile.

“When something is big, it imposes itself on you,” he said. “It becomes undeniable.”

Mr. Daliri began the kookaburra project during Christmas break, but its complexity stymied him. “I couldn’t finish it,” he said.

When the lockdown began in March and he started working from home, he picked it back up.

The kookaburra’s body has a steel framework and includes fiberglass, steel mesh, bamboo, welding rods, ceramic — and some hot glue. A car battery powers the movable beak and the sound system. The sculpture is registered as a boat trailer.

His secret to getting projects done? “Don’t push yourself to be productive,” he said. “Just do what you can. Think about it in this moment — for the next few hours, what is possible?”

Born in Iran, Mr. Daliri worked as an artist in India before moving to Australia in the 1980s. “My way of art is to worship what’s in front of me and appreciate with gratitude,” he said.

He said he had noticed that people were growing depressed and anxious as the pandemic took hold.

“I think this is a time we need to reach out to each other,” he said. “We may not meet all the requirements of people’s material happiness, but spiritually we can make them happy.” The kookaburra’s laugh, he added, is so infectious that it encourages real birds to join in.

The sudden attention has stunned and delighted Mr. Daliri. Now, truck drivers yell out from their windows to tell him it’s exactly what they needed. Reporters from Europe call him wanting to find out more.

“I had no dream that this is going to strike such a chord with everyone,” he said. “This is hilarious.”

Mr. Daliri has already planned a tour with the kookaburra to small towns between Brisbane and Townsville. He is open to ideas about his next endeavor.

“You tell me what’s next. I’ll do that,” he said. “What is it that will cheer people up?”



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