14 Oct 2016
Len Lye’s thrilling kinetic sculpture A Flip and Two Twisters (Trilogy) is performing again at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery.
A newly refurbished Trilogy developed by the Len Lye Foundation marks the return of this iconic work to the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, appearing for the first time in the new Len Lye Centre.
Govett-Brewster Art Gallery director Simon Rees says the kinetic sculpture Trilogy is among the most acclaimed and well-loved works from the New Zealand born Lye (1901-1980).
“Flip and Two Twisters has been a highlight of the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery Collection since 1977, the year that New Plymouth hosted Lye’s first exhibition in his homeland, and people have been prepared to make pilgramages to the Govett-Brewster to see it,” Rees says.
Govett-Brewster staff are working on the operational aspects of the exhibition this week and the sculpture’s performance schedule will be released next week.
Originally commissioned for Lye’s Kinetic Works exhibition in 1977 at the Govett-Brewster, Trilogy remains one of Lye’s largest indoor works and one of the most thrilling museum experiences in the world – a must-see experience for visitors to Taranaki over the last forty years, Mr Rees says.
Two Twisters (six metre bands of stainless steel) hang from the gallery ceiling, flanking Flip (a looped band of stainless steel). A choreographed performance brings each to life as motors spin and twist the steel. The Twisters rise and fall as they enter into a series of harmonic shapes. Their sudden stop produces a halting and chilling crashing sound through the gallery. Flip twists and turns on itself, collapsing under its own weight with ferocious release of thunder.
Lye himself said the kinetic sculpture ‘tumbles straight down with a sound that feels like a bucket of iced water and icicles tumbling down the spine’.
Lye’s first historic iteration of Flip and Two Twisters thrilled audiences in curator Peter Selz’s 1966 landmark exhibition Directions in Kinetic Art. Reviewed in ArtForum by Philip Leider, Lye’s work was said to ‘compress so ferocious an energy that the viewer stands paralyzed, gripped by an emotion almost of terror… the viewer comes upon Lye's “Trilogy” as he would upon a volcano. The effect is beautiful, frightening…’.
Len Lye Foundation director Evan Webb says the re-constructed Trilogy will perform using new motors, controllers and some refurbished mechanical parts. It also requires new brackets and beams to suspend it in the Large Works gallery. The re-constructed work will perform the same as the original built by engineer John Matthews under Lye’s supervision.
Mr Webb says the Len Lye Foundation is working towards reconstructing works, making them more reliable for public display and replacing parts that are wearing out or obsolete.
‘It is also important to preserve the original mechanisms before they become irreparably damaged. The original mechanisms are an important reference for scholars,’ he says.
Flip and Two Twisters (Trilogy) will perform in the Large Works gallery at scheduled times daily. Please check the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery website for details.
Image: Len Lye Flip and Two Twisters (Trilogy) 1977, 2016. Govett-Brewster Art Gallery Collection. Photo Bryan James
NOTES TO EDITORS
The repaired Trilogy is not a complete reconstruction – some parts of the exiting work will remain. However, Trilogy has always had parts replaced – especially the stainless steel strip material that broke from time to time. The most significant change will be the motors and the motor and programme controllers. Previously these were mechanical type devices (rows of switches controlled by cams and motors).These will be replaced by digital controls.
Trilogy is being restored and refurbished. Part of this work is the design of new brackets so that it can be installed and exhibited in the Large Works gallery within the Len Lye Centre. This redesign work is also needed to install the work in its original location (Gallery 6) because structural changes to the gallery required that the sculpture is moved forward in the space.
Trilogy is part of the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery Collection and both the new work and ‘retired’ parts of the original work will remain property of the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery Collection.
For high-res images or further enquiries please contact:
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About Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre
The Govett-Brewster Art Gallery is New Zealand’s contemporary art museum in the coastal city of New Plymouth, Taranaki on the North Island of Aotearoa New Zealand. Since opening in 1970, the Gallery has dedicated itself to innovative programming, focused collection development and audience engagement. It has earned a strong reputation nationally and internationally for its global vision and special commitment to contemporary art of the Pacific Rim. The Govett-Brewster is also home to the collection and archive of the seminal modernist filmmaker and kinetic sculptor Len Lye (1901–1980).
The Govett-Brewster Art Gallery was founded with a gift to the city of New Plymouth, from one of its greatest ‘Friends’ Monica Brewster (née Govett). A globetrotter before the age of air travel, Monica Brewster envisaged an art museum for her hometown that would be an international beacon for the art and ideas of the current day – the sort she had become familiar with on her global travels.
The Govett-Brewster continues in the legacy of Monica Brewster by taking on and presenting the most provocative, audacious and confident works of art in the global arts landscape.
The greatly expanded museum re-launched on 25 July 2015 with the addition of the Len Lye Centre. With its curved exterior walls of mirror-like stainless steel, the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre is the country’s first example of destination architecture linked to contemporary art.
This latest addition to the Govett-Brewster – the Len Lye Centre – is New Zealand’s first institution dedicated to a single artist, the pioneering filmmaker and kinetic sculptor, Len Lye.
In 1964 Len Lye said “Great architecture goes fifty-fifty with great art”.
The Len Lye Centre building, adjoining the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, is an example of innovative thinking in both engineering and architecture. The architects are Patterson Associates, one of New Zealand’s most internationally recognised architectural firms.
The new Len Lye Centre features Lye’s work in kinetic sculpture, film, painting, drawing, photography, batik and writing, as well as related work by contemporary and historical artists.
It also houses a state-of-the-art 62-seat cinema – a welcoming environment for audiences to experience Len Lye’s films, local and international cinema, arthouse and experimental films, and regular film festival programming.
The Govett-Brewster Art Gallery building in New Plymouth closed in April 2013 for earthquake strengthening, compliance, upgrades and construction of the Len Lye Centre.
About Len Lye
A visionary New Zealander, an inspirational artist, a pioneer of film; Len Lye is one of the most important and influential artists to emerge from New Zealand.
Len Lye was an experimental filmmaker, poet, painter, kinetic sculptor and creative visionary ahead of his time. Most of his works were so revolutionary that technology literally had to catch up to him – meaning much of Lye’s work was not realised in his own lifetime.
Lye’s iconic 45-metre kinetic sculpture Wind Wand sways gently on New Plymouth's Coastal Walkway. The Wind Wand that glows red at night, is the first large outdoor sculpture to be built posthumously from his plans and drawings.
In 1977 Lye returned to his homeland to oversee the first New Zealand exhibition of his work at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery. He called it the “swingiest art gallery of the antipodes”.
Shortly before his death in 1980, Lye and his supporters established the Len Lye Foundation, to which he gifted his entire collection. His collection was gifted on the condition that a suitable and permanent home be created in which his works could be fully realised.
(The kinetic sculpture) ‘tumbles straight down with a sound that feels like a bucket of iced water and icicles tumbling down the spine’ - Len Lye