Wellington Scoop

It’s wonderful

lenlye universe

Len Lye, Universe, 1963-1966 (1998 reconstruction), Len Lye Foundation Collection, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery. Photo by Bryan James

by Lindsay Shelton
Shaking, spinning, rotating and swaying. The City Gallery’s new Kaleidoscope exhibition of Len Lye’s kinetic sculptures is unmissably exciting.

In fact, all four of the Gallery’s new exhibitions are fascinating. They’re also complementary. Which is some consolation for all the visitors to Te Papa who’ve been puzzled by the national museum’s inexplicable and unforgivable decision to close its entire art space for two months.

But while the national collection is even more invisible than usual, everything is made right when you walk across the waterfront to the wonderful Len Lye exhibition, which is creating happiness and pleasure for everyone who sees it.

Co-curator Paul Brobbel quotes from a 1961 New York Times review of a Len Lye show at the Museum of Modern Art: “mesmerising.” That’s the word for what’s on show on the first floor of the City Gallery till the end of May.

Len Lye was born in Christchurch in 1901. He went to the Mitchelltown and Te Aro schools in Wellington, and then studied at the Wellington Technical College and became a habitué of the Wellington Public Library. He lived and worked for 18 years in London before moving to the USA in 1944. He died in New York in 1980.


  1. Trish, 10. March 2013, 19:52

    I always find Len Lye’s art moving.

  2. Grant Buist, 10. March 2013, 22:56

    Te Papa has an art space? I thought that was just the corridor they put paintings in when they can’t find space in the storage vault.