Waving Wands

Len Lye (1901 – 1980)

The artist for whom New Plymouth’s Len Lye Centre was named experimented with an array of wind wands in the 1960s resulting in this sculpture (among others) which was installed at the city’s East End Reserve in March 2017.

The six wands are made from slender hollow fibreglass tubes topped with coloured plastic spheres which light up at night. Five are a total height of 10 metres and one is at 12 metres. The illumination is provided by 18 high powered LED lights which are set into the platform on which the wands are installed.

Lye described his winds wands thus: “Their weight is so lightly balanced that if a bumble bee stood on the ball at the top it would dip a bit, and the more honey he carried the more it would dip.”

The Waving Wands were first displayed at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation in St Louis, Missouri, USA in 2014. They were installed in a roof garden and were a big hit with the populace as a local radio station referred to them as a daily wind indicator.

Further along New Plymouth’s Coastal Walkway, near the city centre, is Lye’s famous Wind Wand which was installed in 2001. That spectacular single rod is 48 metres tall, and also lights up at night.

Len Lye was a New Zealand born artist who made his mark in London as an experimental film maker and in New York as a kinetic sculptor. In 1980, following an exhibition of his works at the Govett-Brewster Gallery, Lye established the Len Lye Foundation to own his works and to continue his artistic vision. He chose for his works to be housed and cared for by the gallery.

Funding of $150,000 was provided for the sculpture in partnership with the Len Lye Foundation, New Plymouth District Council, Art in Public Places Trust and Technix Group Limited.

Image Credits: Clay Drummond.

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