DRAMATIC ARTWORK ON CITY'S FORESHORE
Coastal Walkway, New Plymouth.
One of the most visible art pieces in the city is the 45m-high kinetic sculpture Wind Wand, designed by the late internationally renowned New Zealand artist Len Lye, which takes pride of place on New Plymouth's Coastal Walkway.
Installed next to the walkway's central deck on 31 December 1999 by the Len Lye Foundation as the city's millennium project, the artwork's sphere broke apart in stormy weather about a month later and the Wind Wand was removed for repairs. It returned to the Coastal Walkway on 5 July 2001 for the centenary celebrations of Len Lye's birth.
This dramatic artwork is fascinating to watch during both calm weather and storms. Its coastal location maximises its kinetic characteristics and its impact is enhanced by its highly visible location and the backdrop of the Tasman Sea.
Wind Wand is strong enough to stand upright but flexible enough to gently bend and sway in the breeze. By night, the globe on top emits a soft, red glow.
Wind Wand is constructed out of fibreglass and carbon fibre. It weighs about 900kg and has a diameter of 200mm. Wind Wand can bend at least 20m. The red sphere on the top contains 1,296 light-emitting diodes (LED).Return to top
Born in 1901, Len Lye is arguably New Zealand’s most celebrated expatriate artist. His reputation stands primarily on his achievements as a film-maker and kinetic sculptor.
Living in London in the 1930s, Lye became well known for his pioneering work in ‘direct’ or camera-less filmmaking. To produce abstract animation Lye painted and scratched the film itself, and used innovative techniques of colour processing. Lye emigrated to the United States in 1944, settling in New York where he continued his work in film and began producing kinetic sculptures.
In 1977, Lye returned to his homeland for the first New Zealand exhibition of his work at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth. Shortly before Lye's death in 1980 he entrusted his work to the newly constituted Len Lye Foundation. He encouraged the foundation to build his work to the scale he envisioned. New Plymouth’s Wind Wand and Wellington’s Water Whirler are two examples of this work.
The Len Lye collection and archive are housed and cared for by the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery through a trust deed with the Len Lye Foundation.
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