New Plymouth is all about the mountain – known as both Mt Egmont and (latterly) Mt Taranaki, which sits serenely watching all that happens below. The early European settlers soon felled the native forests, leaving behind rich volcanic soils which form the backbone of Taranaki’s dairy industry. The mountain was peeping out of the cloud cover, and hopefully we will get a nice clear shot while we are visiting the area.There’s a saying up this way: “If you can’t see the mountain, it’s raining, and if you can see the mountain, it’s going to rain!”
One of the things on our New PLymouth bucket list was a visit to the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery. This amazing building is covered in highly polished stainless steel and shimmers and shines, and was designed by New Zealand architect Andrew Patterson.
Govett-Brewster Art Gallery
The inside of the building, showing the convoluted wall
We went primarily to see Len Lye’s moving sculptures, and as we moved through the gallery, we were drawn towards the moving shadows on the wall, and the sound of rattling and shaking, slowly getting closer as we looked through the “Emanations – the Art of the Camerless Photo” exhibition. Sounds rather strange, doesn’t it? But these works were made using photo paper, light and heat. And finally, there it was, the beautiful, fascinating, dancing “Four Fountains”. We sat and watched, as the rods, lit up with light, turned this way and that in a never-ending cycle of movement.
Len Lye spent his career pursuing an ‘art of movement’. He wanted to affect people physically and emotionally, so that art became a full body experience. Whether this was with flashing, dancing cinematography, or thunderous, oscillating metallic sculptures, his work stimulated the senses and was unforgettable.
Three of the Four Fountains
Luckily, we timed our visit to coincide with a film on Len Lye’s life and his thought processes to designing his kenetic sculptures. We were only sorry that there wasn’t more of this very talented man’s work on show at the gallery at this time. But we knew where there was another example on the coastal walkway, the famous Wind Wand, so drove down to have another look at this interesting sculpture. Wind Wand is constructed out of fibreglass and carbon fibre. It weighs about 900kg and has a diameter of 200mm. Wind Wand can bend at least 20m. The red sphere on the top contains 1,296 light-emitting diodes (LED).
Wind Wand on the waterfront
In the evening we were invited to spend the evening with Robin’s old school friend Gary and his wife Glennis. After a lovely home cooked meal, there was plenty of reminiscing going on, and out came the photo albums. Robin and Gary were great school friends and went to Scouts together, the highlight being a trip down to Dunedin to attend a huge Scout Jamboree. You can just imagine hundreds of scouts on a steam train to Wellington, stopping at all the stations to pick up more and more excited boys. Then they boarded the Inter Island Ferry to Christchurch, and a double header steam train to take them down to Dunedin. What a great adventure for them all, and the trip was repeated on the homeward journey. Robin admits to sleeping curled up in a lifeboat on the return ferry trip.
Gary and Robin with the photo album