Osborne Shiwan

Osborne Shiwan

Len Lye's Wind Wand struck by lightning

20 Sep 2017

It suffered no structural damage from the lightning strike. The artwork has two fuses and while one was damaged and will be replaced, the other continues to work and the Wand's light is on as usual.

A video on PrimoWireless' Facebook page shows footage of the public art work being struck by lightning about 6.11pm on Sunday 17 September. 

Certainly a sight to behold, online viewers' imaginations ran wild. But the Wind Wand is actually designed to withstand lightning strikes and has been struck before.

The 45m-tall fibreglass sculpture has become one of the most recognisable symbols of New Plymouth's waterfront.

Conceived by New Zealand born artist Len Lye, this sculpture was commissioned by the New Plymouth District Council and made by the Len Lye Foundation to celebrate the new millennium. The red light at the top was illuminated for the first time at midnight, December 31st 1999.

Devoting his life to the art of motion, Lye made an international career in both film-making and kinetic sculpture. He described his sculptures as dancers, in this case swaying and oscillating in response to the motion of the wind. Lye produced several smaller versions of Wind Wand during his lifetime but hoped that one day a 45 metre Wand could be built.

The posthumous version on New Plymouth’s coastal walkway realises the artist's intentions through the use of glass and carbon fibres that are both strong and flexible.

Quick Facts about Wind Wand

Height             45 meters

Diameter         200 millimeters

Weight            900 kilograms

- The main construction materials used for the Wind Wand are fiberglass and carbon fibre.

- 1296 light-emiting diodes (LEDs) in the red sphere on top provide the gentle illumination visible at night.

- Wind Wand can bend approximately 20 metres in any direction.