The new co-directors of the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, Aileen Burns and Johan Lundh.

The new co-directors of the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, Aileen Burns and Johan Lundh.

Co-Directorship announced for the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre

20 Dec 2018

New Plymouth District Council has appointed Aileen Burns and Johan Lundh as co-directors of the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre.

The announcement follows a six-month global search which has involved local, national and international stakeholders.

Burns and Lundh are currently executive directors of the Institute of Modern Art (IMA) in Brisbane, Australia, and formerly co-directors of the Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA) in Londonderry/Derry, Northern Ireland. They will start in the role in March.

Aileen Burns holds an MA in Modern Art from Columbia University, New York, and a BA with Honours in Art History and Cinema from the University of Toronto, Canada. Johan Lundh holds an MA and BA from Konstfack University, Stockholm, Sweden. They have written extensively, curated and produced exhibitions, artist projects and programmes globally.   

“We are honoured to take up the Directorship of the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre. We have followed its programme for many years and been impressed with this ambitious organisation. We share a passion for the artist-centred spirit of the Govett-Brewster and look forward to furthering its development, achievements and reputation,” the co-directors said. 

“It will be a great pleasure to lead it to its 50th year in 2020 as we celebrate its past and plan for its bold future. We look forward to working closely with the staff and city team, foundations, partners and stakeholders to keep art at the centre of civic life for the local community and visitors.”

Director of Remai Modern, Canada, and international consultant for NPDC’s recruitment panel, Gregory Burke said: “Aileen and Johan presented a strong programme vision. They have impressive global relationships and a solid track record. I am excited for the future of the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery and Len Lye Centre”.

NPDC Chief Operating Officer Kelvin Wright said: “We sought an inspiring, aspirational and experienced director to lead the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery and Len Lye Centre’s strategic growth, programme development and delivery, and increase its impact locally, nationally and internationally. We undertook a robust search and recruitment process.

“Aileen and Johan presented a compelling co-director partnership based on their international experience. We look forward to working with them as we take the Gallery into a new chapter.

“I acknowledge the work of Acting Director Colleen Mullin and the team during the last six months. They have performed an outstanding job and established a strong platform for the new directorship to build from.”

Taranaki Iwi CEO, and interview panellist, Wharehoka Wano, said: “Aileen and Johan bring with them experiences from their previous roles in Londonderry/Derry, Northern Ireland and Brisbane, Queensland, including working closely with aboriginal communities to add the indigenous voice and stories from those communities to the contemporary gallery setting. Between them they add a high level creative and technical skill set that is required in this new role and an energy which is well suited to the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery and Len Lye Centre.”

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 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. It is the international centre for exploration of his work. The centre researches, collects, stores, conserves, exhibits and publishes on the life and creations of New Zealand’s most internationally acclaimed artist.

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 Len Lye Centre presents changing exhibitions of 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 60-seat cinema and presents Lye’s films to their best advantage, films that are landmark works that pioneer innovation in film, media and art. Visitors can also experience a selection of international film festivals, experimental, arthouse and cult movies, as well as a programme of New Zealand cinema, symposia and lectures.

The Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre is owned and operated by the New Plymouth District Council, which governs the museum under the terms of the founding Monica Brewster Trust Deed, in association with the Len Lye Foundation.


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"I am excited for the future of the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery and Len Lye Centre" - Gregory Burke