New Len Lye exhibition promises a sculptural storm

Fri 25 Aug 2023
Len Lye with Storm, 1960s, photographer unknown. Len Lye Foundation Collection

Storm, an ensemble of sculptures by Len Lye never exhibited in New Zealand before, will go on show at NPDC’s Govett-Brewster Art Gallery | Len Lye Centre this weekend.

Exhibited just once in Lye’s lifetime, Storm featured in the exhibition Kinesthetics, at New York’s Howard Wise Gallery’s in 1969 and is being reconstructed by the Len Lye Foundation for the show starting Saturday 26 August.

A teaser for a larger work occupying Lye’s mind, Storm consists of the first components of a proposed but never-realised ensemble of more than 40 kinetic sculptures to be called Storm Chamber.

Storm comprises three of those elements. The individual works Storm KingThunder Sheet, and Lightning Bolts are choreographed in a kinetic performance which evokes the forces of nature.

“The original elements of Storm have long resided in the Len Lye Foundation collection as archival pieces. Drawing on these remaining components of the 1969 work, plus Lye’s notes, audio recordings and drawings, the Len Lye Foundation have been able to reconstruct the work,” says Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre Director Zara Stanhope.

Storm was re-engineered in Christchurch by the Foundation ahead of the exhibition, notably the final of Lye’s works to be reconstructed by longstanding Foundation Director Evan Webb before he passed away earlier this year.

The exhibition’s opening weekend features a range of free events including the premiere of Weather Assemblage, an original musical response to the work composed by Ōtautahi/Christchurch musician Noel Meek for playing in concert with Storm.

Meek will be joined by Eamon Edmundson-Wells and Sean Martin-Buss on a new instrument constructed for working with Storm, as well as taonga pūoro practitioners Rob Thorne (Ngāti Tumutumu), Jake Kīanō Skinner (Ngāti Rangitihi, Tūhoe) and Larsen Winiata Tito-Taylor (Ngā Puhi, Ngāti Whātua, Tainui).

Storm runs through to 28 April 2024. More information at