We woke on Sunday to a beautiful blue sky, and the promise of some lovely weather. After an excellent breakfast – we came downstairs at our B&B to a platter of beautifully presented fresh fruit, yoghurt and cereals, and were then prepared a cooked breakfast, along with toast and some home made lemon muffins – we set off to explore.
We walked over to the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, which was top of my list of things to do while we were in New Plymouth.
Govett-Brewster gallery from the outside
The gallery is home to the Len Lye Centre, which houses the artist’s collection and archive. Lye, who was born in Christchurch but became a naturalised US citizen, is primarily known for his kinetic sculpture and pioneering early video works. He was a pioneer film maker, sculptor, painter and poet, and produced a vast body of work. I had seen some of his work in Wellington, and was eager to see and learn more about the man and his work. The centre opened this year, and the outside, with its stainless steel facade, is quite a contrast to the other buildings around it. The building is quite striking, resembling to my mind, the waves crashing on the nearby shoreline. The Centre has a cinema and education centre was well as gallery space, and was designed by Andrew Patterson, a New Zealand architect who said:
‘Len Lye is an inspirational figure that bridged a multitude of creative disciplines including architecture, he lifted himself out of our little country and heaved himself up on to the international stage. So designing the art museum has been about interpreting memories to create a physical beacon to guide others, a beacon that is unmistakably Len Lye’ (reference here).
The inside of the building, pictured above, was as striking as the outside. I loved the way the shadows of the kinetic sculptures in one room formed new shapes on the walls.
Impossible to capture..one of the four fountains on display
We also saw the pioneering film ‘A Colour Box’ from 1935, some of his drawings and other works. The gallery also had an exhibition “Our Hearts of Darkness”, which was based on works from the Govett-Brewster Collection, with a focus on violence in New Zealand society (it was really good and not as gruesome as it may sound!).
From there we headed to Puke Ariki, the local museum (the building also houses the main library and tourist information centre), which covers the history of the region. Just outside the building is this cottage below, the name of which escapes me, but it is one of the original buildings in the city.
After all this, it was time for a lunch break before we headed for a walk along the waterfront. As we were getting out bearings and deciding which way to go, we spotted Mount Taranaki, its snow top peak bright against the bright blue skies. A great start to the afternoon – more of which in the next post.