An exhibition inspired by a flash of light and a thunderclap.
As a small boy growing up in Christchurch, Len Lye kicked a kerosene can around the backyard on a sunny day. The flash of light and clap of thunder that came from the empty can would provide inspiration for the rest of his life’s work. This revelatory moment—when surprise gave way to discovery—shaped an artistic career that took him to Samoa, London, New York and Mallorca. Bursting with irrepressible energy, Len Lye’s sculptures bang, crash, bounce, sway, rotate and swing. The exhibition shows major sculptural works alongside Lye’s films, drawings and paintings.
Len Lye’s sculptures perform regularly during the day. You can download the current schedule here.
Blade performs at 12.30pm each weekday, with an additional performance at 7.25pm on Wednesday evenings. It performs at 12.30 and 3pm on Saturday and Sunday.
With the support of the Len Lye Foundation, New Plymouth.
Join volunteer guide June Goldstein as she discusses Len Lye's kinetic sculpture Witch Dance in Len Lye: Stopped Short by Wonder on the ground floor.
Taking inspiration from Len Lye, we’re spending the school holidays making art that packs a punch with noise and movement.
Building on our exhibition Len Lye: Stopped Short by Wonder, Roger Horrocks—writer, film-maker and former assistant to Len Lye—presents an illustrated view of Lye’s life and work and his connection to Christchurch.
Join a free guided tour with one of our friendly, knowledgeable guides exploring the exhibition Len Lye: Stopped Short by Wonder on the ground floor.
Len Lye: The Total Artwork
Celebrates the centenary of one of New Zealand's most inventive artists.
However cold or wet it is as I write this (and certainly it’s raining at present), our September Bulletin heralds the coming of spring, and with it, the promise of growth, renewal and hope.
Len Lye Works
The glancing body of a hooked swordfish; the shivering skin of a panicky horse; a shiny tin kicked in rage by a young boy outside the Cape Campbell lighthouse. This triptych of memories was the inspiration for avant-garde New Zealand sculptor, painter and film-maker Len Lye’s Blade (1972–4) – a vertical band of steel that curves, flexes, arches then hammers frenetically against a cork ball in a fury of light, sound and movement.
I’ve never actually seen the Mona Lisa, and it’s a fair bet that most people reading this article haven’t either. Yet, according to Wikipedia, the painting is ‘the best known, the most visited, the most written about, the most sung about, the most parodied work of art in the world’. So how to account for the fame of an artwork we haven’t seen? And what have reproductions of Da Vinci’s sixteenth-century portrait got to teach us about time-based art and the online environment in 2015?
Some notes on movement in art
Hanging from the ceiling in my infant son's room is a mobile. At rest, he seems to scarcely notice its suspended figures, but a quick breath brings them to life and, drawn to their gentle twirling, his face brightens and body tenses with a laugh.