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Scoop Images: Len Lye's Water Whirler


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Scoop Images: Len Lye's Water Whirler

Photos and Article by Lyndon Hood

The Wellington waterfront has new sculpture. Water Whirler, realised from drawings and descriptions by Len Lye, is now operating on a specially-constructed pier by Frank Kitts Park.

Len Lye (1901 - 1980) was a New Zealand artist internationally know for his work in kinetic art and experimental film. He planned many works that were not feasible to create at full size with the technology of his day - he describe himself as creating sculpture "for the 21st Century".

Originally planned a Millenium project, Water Whirler, is the second full-scale Lye sculpture to be constructed. Fran Wilde, chair of Wellington Waterfront Limited, said that the full cost of planning and creating the installation was "the thick part of a millions dollars".

A crowd gathered as darkness fell last night (7 March) for the official launch. After a ribbon-cutting by the Governor-General and Mayor Kerry Prendegast, the sculpture was activated.

It ran through its 15 minute sequence tilts and twists - somewhat hampered by high winds - sending streams of water out in increasingly energetic and complex gyrations. One speaker likened the lean, energetic sculpture to Len Lye himself.

Water Whirler will be operating regularly during the day and night. Times will be posted near the sculpture.


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The flexible mast at the centre of the work catches the Wellington breeze.


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NZ Arts Festival: Len Lye's Water Whirler
Govett-Brewster Art Gallery: Len Lye Foundation collection and archive
Scoop Full Coverage: Festival 2006

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