3 May 2015

Len Lye Centre to open in July

6:23 pm on 3 May 2015

The mirror-like facade of the $11.5 million Len Lye Centre in New Plymouth is beginning to emerge fully from out behind the builders' scaffolding.

The Len Lye Centre in New Plymouth.

The Len Lye Centre in New Plymouth. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

The southern flank of the 32-tonne facade, which is made up of 14-metre high panels, is now completely exposed and work has begun on fitting the last of the 17 panels to the building's eastern side.

Construction began on the centre in June 2013 and it is on track to open alongside the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, which is being earthquake strengthened, on 25 July.

The Len Lye Centre in New Plymouth.

Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

Govett-Brewster manager of communications and experience Anna McLaren said most of the major work had been completed inside the building and gallery staff would move in on 2 June.

Ms McLaren said the opening exhibition at the centre would be a new survey of the artist's work called Len Lye Jam Session.

"Think of it as being a 'best of', if you like, featuring kinetic sculpture, painting, cinema and works from his archive."

A highlight will be an eight metre high version of one of Len Lye's signature works, Fountain, which will be displayed in the centre's purpose-built Large Works Gallery.

A construction worker peels away the protective layer from a stainless steel panel on the exterior of the new Len Lye Centre in New Plymouth.

A construction worker peels away the protective layer from a stainless steel panel on the exterior of the new Len Lye Centre in New Plymouth. Photo: SUPPLIED

Alongside the Len Lye Jam Session, the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery will reopen with an exhibition entitled Our Hearts of Darkness.

Ms McLaren said the exhibition was an examination of violence in New Zealand through the lens of contemporary art from the gallery's collection. It will also feature a Len Lye piece, the refurbished Trilogy.

Len Lye spent the majority of his career in London and New York after leaving New Zealand while still in his 20s.

He first came to prominence as an experimental filmmaker in London, but later, while living in the United States, became renowned for his kinetic sculpture.

In 1977, the Govett-Brewster presented Kinetic Works, the first-ever survey of his works in the world, and his first exhibition in New Zealand.

Shortly before his death in 1980, Len Lye gifted his collection of work and his archive to the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery.

The new centre has been designed and built so more of his works could be on permanent display.

Len Lye Centre director Simon Rees has said he hoped the centre will help put New Plymouth on the map as New Zealand's cultural capital.

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