Peter Peryer <em>Tulips, Invercargill</em> 2007. Courtesy the artist

Peter Peryer Tulips, Invercargill 2007. Courtesy the artist

New exhibition space opens in New Plymouth's iconic old bank - May 2016

01 Jun 2016

This month the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery opens a temporary art space in New Plymouth’s former TSB Bank, centrally located on Devon St West.

From 29 May until the end of August the historical building will house a string of exhibitions that showcase the work of Taranaki artists and works that have been made in response to the region. 

The opening exhibition celebrates one of New Zealand’s leading photographers, Peter Peryer, who has lived in New Plymouth for the past 15 years. Curated by Head of Exhibitions and Collections at the Govett-Brewster, Sophie O’Brien, Peryer’s exhibition includes more than 20 photographs and objects, some of which have never before been exhibited. This will be Peryer’s first solo exhibition in New Plymouth for 12 years.

A senior artist, Peryer has been taking photographs since the 1970s, building a body of work that has been exhibited and acclaimed on both a global and national level. Several photographic works by Peryer are held within in the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery Collection, as well as the collections of National Art Gallery Te Papa Tongarewa, Dunedin Public Art Gallery, Sarjeant Gallery in Whanganui and the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Curator Sophie O’Brien says Peryer’s work attracts our attention to the usually unseen elements of our environment that many of us overlook. We are invited to re-imagine everyday objects and situations through Peryer’s lens, in a series of works focusing on plants, animals, landscapes and built structures. 

“With a highly selective eye, Peryer focuses intently on chosen objects to reveal their inherent beauty, playful humour, or deeply unsettling nature. These are images made using a careful and instinctive process, created after intense reflection. They slow the viewer’s eye so that we might more subtly engage with the materiality of the world around us, says Sophie.

Chloe Cull, Govett-Brewster Assistant Curator says Peryer has been thinking about this exhibition as a whole, as an art work in itself.

“The exhibition space, the works in it and the way they are displayed are all very important to Peter; his artworks were selected with careful regard to this iconic Taranaki building,” she says.

The original TSB Bank has been revitalised as an art space, with the original architectural features incorporated to embrace the structure’s rich character. The building which has a category two rating from the Historical Places Trust was formerly the TSB Bank city branch and was founded as the New Plymouth Savings Bank in 1850. The interior has been freshly painted and new lighting installed, ready for public use for the first time since it was declared an earthquake risk and closed in 2013.

Govett-Brewster Art Gallery Director Simon Rees: “The Govett-Brewster sees itself as a key contributor to the Council’s Blueprint and its vision for this part of the CBD to become known as a cultural precinct. The owner John Shewry is breathing life back into one of our fabulous pieces of built heritage and we are excited to be part of that story”.

The succeeding exhibition will showcase work by young New Plymouth artist, Andrew Beck, while the last exhibition in the series will include moving image artworks from the Govett-Brewster Collection.

Peter Peryer will run from 29 May to 26 June. Entry to the exhibition is free and the artworks will not be for sale. An exhibition of Peryer’s work at Melanie Roger Gallery in Auckland opens 1 June.

This exhibition accompanies the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery’s current exhibition Emanations: The Art of the Cameraless Photograph, the first comprehensive survey of cameraless photography held anywhere in the world. Emanations presents more than 200 examples of cameraless photography from 1839 – when photography’s invention was announced – through to the work of contemporary New Zealand and international artists.

Image: Peter Peryer Tulips, Invercargill 2007. Courtesy the artist



For high-res images or enquiries please contact:  Kelly Loney
Communications Co-ordinator
M: +275 839 2660


About Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre
The Govett-Brewster Art Gallery is New Zealand’s contemporary art museum in the coastal city of New Plymouth, Taranaki on the North Island of Aotearoa New Zealand. Since opening in 1970, the Gallery has dedicated itself to innovative programming, focused collection development and audience engagement. It has earned a strong reputation nationally and internationally for its global vision and special commitment to contemporary art of the Pacific Rim. The Govett-Brewster is also home to the collection and archive of the seminal modernist filmmaker and kinetic sculptor Len Lye (1901–1980).

The Govett-Brewster Art Gallery was founded with a gift to the city of New Plymouth, from one of its greatest ‘Friends’ Monica Brewster (née Govett). A globetrotter before the age of air travel, Monica Brewster envisaged an art museum for her hometown that would be an international beacon for the art and ideas of the current day – the sort she had become familiar with on her global travels.

The Govett-Brewster continues in the legacy of Monica Brewster by taking on and presenting the most provocative, audacious and confident works of art in the global arts landscape.

The greatly expanded museum re-launched on 25 July 2015 with the addition of the Len Lye Centre. With its curved exterior walls of mirror-like stainless steel, the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre is the country’s first example of destination architecture linked to contemporary art.

This latest addition to the Govett-Brewster – the Len Lye Centre – is New Zealand’s first institution dedicated to a single artist, the pioneering filmmaker and kinetic sculptor, Len Lye.

In 1964 Len Lye said “Great architecture goes fifty-fifty with great art”.

The Len Lye Centre building, adjoining the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, is an example of innovative thinking in both engineering and architecture. The architects are Patterson Associates, one of New Zealand’s most internationally recognised architectural firms.

The new Len Lye Centre features Lye’s work in kinetic sculpture, film, painting, drawing, photography, batik and writing, as well as related work by contemporary and historical artists. 

It also houses a state-of-the-art 62-seat cinema – a welcoming environment for audiences to experience Len Lye’s films, local and international cinema, arthouse and experimental films, and regular film festival programming.

The Govett-Brewster Art Gallery building in New Plymouth closed in April 2013 for earthquake strengthening, compliance, upgrades and construction of the Len Lye Centre.


About Len Lye 
A visionary New Zealander, an inspirational artist, a pioneer of film; Len Lye is one of the most important and influential artists to emerge from New Zealand.

Lye was an experimental filmmaker, poet, painter, kinetic sculptor and creative visionary ahead of his time. Most of his works were so revolutionary that technology literally had to catch up to him – meaning much of Lye’s work was not realised in his own lifetime.

Lye’s iconic 45-metre kinetic sculpture Wind Wand sways gently on New Plymouth's Coastal Walkway. The Wind Wand that glows red at night, is the first large outdoor sculpture to be built posthumously from his plans and drawings.

In 1977 Lye returned to his homeland to oversee the first New Zealand exhibition of his work at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery. He called it the “swingiest art gallery of the antipodes”.

Shortly before his death in 1980, Lye and his supporters established the Len Lye Foundation, to which he gifted his entire collection. His collection was gifted on the condition that a suitable and permanent home be created in which his works could be fully realised.




“The exhibition space, the works in it and the way they are displayed are all very important to Peter; his artworks were selected with careful regard to this iconic Taranaki building” - Chloe Cull