Govett-Brewster Gallery

New Plymouth’s Govett-Brewster Gallery is certainly unusual. As an art gallery it’s a waste of time; but as a physics or maths lab, or as a vast minimalist house, it has its moments. That said, a week before my visit they started charging $15 to get in, so predictably there were no other people there at all.

It centres round local artist Len Lye, who specialised in ‘kinetic sculpture’. Typically this means a motor going round and round with a big wobbly wire sticking out of it; this forms into harmonic shapes which shift about as the motor changes speed. It’s good school maths/physics stuff, and it makes a few interesting displays. And it’s nice to see someone caring for these things.

The museum has a striking corrugated mirror-surface exterior. This seems to serve no useful purpose but, well, here it is…

The first ‘installation’ was a really big groan: a concoction of wires, drums, plastic sheets, water and kitchen implements. Motors whirred, things jiggled about, drips dripped, and occasionally a whisk got drawn across the skin of a drum. I stood there longing for something – or anything to happen.

Here are a few general views of the gallery interior. The shiny part of the building is basically an addition to an older gallery, and the notion of ‘a clear path through it all’ seems to have eluded the architect; but there are some stunning corridors and magnificent stairways down to the basement. No people, though…

And now for some Len Lye. This one is ‘Moonbead’ – basically ‘flappy wire sticking out of an electric motor, going round and round, with a stroboscope’:

And this one is ‘Firebush’ – basically ‘red flappy rods sticking out of an electric motor, going round and round’:

To be fair, these both look better in motion… but posting video seems to defeat WordPress at the moment. I came away thinking ‘must try this at home…’