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All go for Len Lye Centre

New Plymouth District Council has succeeded in securing the $10 million required to build a world centre for the works of celebrated New Zealand artist Len Lye.


New Plymouth District Council has succeeded in securing the $10 million required to build a world centre for the works of celebrated New Zealand artist Len Lye.

The Len Lye Centre will operate as a combined facility with the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery.

Tenders will be called in late October with a goal to start construction in February 2013. The targeted opening date for the new facility is early 2015.

New Plymouth District Mayor Harry Duynhoven says: “This is fantastic news. The funding is now committed and we can go ahead and create a landmark building displaying the inspirational creations of one of New Zealand’s most celebrated innovators.

“I’ve no doubt the end product will be remarkable and will attract national and international tourists, and importantly, the building of the centre will contribute further to economic growth. A substantial infrastructure project of this kind is especially important for New Plymouth in the current economic climate.”

Hon. Christopher Finlayson, Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage says: “This is an outstanding project for New Zealand. The Government is fully supportive of initiatives such as the Len Lye Centre that both recognise our cultural pioneers and contribute significantly to the culture and economy of the future.”

The $10 million targeted for construction has been committed as follows:

  • $1m – TSB Community Trust, committed in 2009.
  • $4m – Ministry for Arts Culture and Heritage Regional Museum Policy Fund, 2011.
  • $0.5m – Lotteries’ Environment and Heritage Fund, 2011.
  • $3m – Todd Energy, 2011.
  • $0.2m – private donors, 2012.
  • Underwrite of the remaining required amount – TSB Community Trust, 2012

Hayden Wano, Chair TSB Community Trust, says: “The TSB Community Trust agreed to underwrite the remaining funds for the $10 million capital construction cost to progress this important project for Taranaki. The commitment by the trust gives a further two and a half years to raise the rest of the funds.”

NPDC Chief Executive Barbara McKerrow says: “We are extremely thankful to all our partners for sharing of our vision of a world centre for Len Lye. The Len Lye Centre will enhance the care, display, and research of the work of Len Lye and will be the best place in the world for audiences to experience his influential art and ideas.

“This is the result of a successful thirty year relationship between New Plymouth and Len Lye that began with the first Len Lye exhibition here at the Govett-Brewster in 1977 that led to his entire Collection and Archive, owned by the Len Lye Foundation, being housed at the Gallery since 1980.”

“Our aim is to keep fundraising and remove the need for the TSB Community Trust underwrite. We are in discussions with other major corporates and hope to make more announcements of support soon. We also know there are many people around the country and overseas who would like to support this project in big and small ways. There is now a Len Lye Centre Trust which is accepting donations.”

Todd Energy’s total contribution of $3 million is for the capital construction of the Len Lye Centre and is the largest single corporate arts donation to date in New Zealand. In recognition of this, Todd Energy will be the sole founding partner of the Len Lye Centre and will also become the naming partner for both the Todd Energy Foyer and Todd Energy Learning Centre in the Len Lye Centre.

Todd Energy Chief Executive Paul Moore says: “Todd Energy is committed to the growth of Taranaki and to investing in the local community. We believe the Len Lye Centre will be a valuable asset for New Plymouth and for New Zealand and we look forward to being a part of it.”

Says Mrs McKerrow: “The engineering expertise available here is one of the aspects that initially attracted Lye to New Plymouth, and this project will further enhance Taranaki’s reputation as a centre for engineering excellence.”

In addition to building the Len Lye Centre, the Council will also address three other pieces of work required at the Govett-Brewster:

  • Earthquake strengthening.
  • Deferred renewals work including improvements to climate control.
  • To upgrade non-compliance with health and safety standards.

“We’ll aim to do them all at once. Wrapping all four elements into a single contract is the most cost effective option,” says Mrs McKerrow.

General Manager Infrastructure Anthony Wilson says: “We’ll effectively be killing two birds with one stone – building the Len Lye Centre and improving the ability of the Govett-Brewster, which was recently confirmed as earthquake-prone, to withstand earthquakes.

“Regardless of whether the Len Lye Centre was being built, we would still have had to undertake earthquake strengthening for the Govett-Brewster. Were it not for the centre, it’s likely the earthquake strengthening at the gallery would have been considerably more difficult and expensive.”

Internationally recognised architectural firm Patterson Associates, who have designed the Len Lye Centre, have integrated the required earthquake strengthening work into the overall project.

“The architects’ detailed designs for the Len Lye Centre have been recently been assessed by independent quantity surveyors as being within the $10 million budget for construction,” says Mr Wilson.

The earthquake strengthening, deferred renewals work and health and safety improvements will be funded from depreciation reserves at the Govett-Brewster.

Govett-Brewster Art Gallery Director Rhana Devenport says: “The new combined facility will offer a unique and complimentary programme of exhibitions and public engagement. The facility will share a management team and operating costs as well as the education suite, the cinema, galleries and the Art and Design Shop and cafe.

“This development will enhance the Gallery’s already strong position as one of the leading contemporary art museums in New Zealand.”

Says Len Lye Committee Chairperson Lance Girling-Butcher: “The recent successful production of Len Lye: the opera in Auckland further demonstrates the strong interest in Len Lye, his life and work.

“The Govett-Brewster is working with the City Gallery in Wellington on a major exhibition showcasing Lye’s work for early 2013. The gallery is also planning an important exhibition with Mangere Arts Centre in South Auckland that will celebrate Lye’s Pacific influences, and the influences that he continues to have on contemporary artists today.”

Proposed dates for Expressions of Interest and tender process

  • By 1 October 2012 New Plymouth District Council will advertise the expressions of interest (EOI) document through TenderLink. TenderLink is a gateway to advertise tenders throughout Australia and New Zealand. TenderLink is used by all levels of government, and the private and public sectors.
  • 12 October 2012 – expressions of interest close.
  • By 19 October the EOIs will be evaluated using the weighted attribute method and successful contractors will be advised who will be invited to go to tender.
  • Tender documents to be collated and mailed/couriered to successful contractors on Friday 26 October 2012 to arrive on Monday morning 29 October 2012.
  • 26 November 2012, tenders close and evaluation process started.
  • 10 December 2012, tender awarded.

Len Lye
Len Lye (1901-1980) is one of the most important artists to have emerged from New Zealand. Legendary amongst experimental filmmakers, his ‘direct’ films made by painting and scratching on celluloid were part of Lye’s prescient vision for a new ‘art of movement’. His dynamic, motorised steel sculptures of the 1960s express a creative energy that Lye brought to film, painting, photography and poetry. The Len Lye Collection and Archive has been housed and cared for by the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery in partnership with the Len Lye Foundation since 1980.

Lye’s sculptures are included in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and the Berkeley Art Museum. His films are held primarily at the New Zealand Film Archive in Wellington and also in archives at the British Film Institute; Museum of Modern Art, New York City; the Pacific Film Archive, University of California, Berkeley and the Centre Pompidou, Paris.

Lye’s 45m-high kinetic sculpture Wind Wand has featured on New Plymouth’s Coastal Walkway since 2000, and Water Whirler has featured on Wellington’s waterfront since 2006.
Patterson Associates
Patterson Associates are acknowledged as New Zealand’s most internationally recognised architects. Established by Andrew Patterson in 1996, the firm is committed to sustainable methodology, innovative use of materials and creating simple, beautiful projects that encourage people to engage on many levels.  Their projects range from complex developments and urban infrastructure through to bespoke residential homes and three-dimensional strategic thinking

Pattersons are multiple recipients of The New Zealand Institute of Architects’ NZ Supreme Award for Architecture. Pattersons designed the Michael Hill Clubhouse in Wakatipu which was selected as one of the nine best sports and leisure buildings in the world at the Barcelona World Architecture Festivalin 2008. Another of Pattersons’ recent projects, the Geyser building in Auckland, has achieved New Zealand’s first six Green Star –Design certified rating. Six stars signify world innovation in sustainability.

In May 2011 Patterson Associates was named by the world’s most searched Architectural  Journal World Architecture News in their 21 for 21 programme as one of five international architectural practices that are “set to shape the future of architecture in the 21st Century”.

Patterson Associates have engaged New Plymouth architectural and engineering firms Chapman Oulsnam Speirs to assist with the project.
The Len Lye Centre
The Len Lye Centre is a partnership between NPDC and the Len Lye Foundation. It will be operated as a combined facility with the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery and will offer a unique and complimentary programme of exhibitions and public engagement. The centre and gallery will share a Director, management team and operating costs as well as facilities such as the education suite and commercial facilities including the Art and Design Shop and cafe.

Renowned New Zealand architect Sir Miles Warren, often cited as the father of New Zealand architecture has said about the design for the Len Lye Centre: “Pattersons have designed a stunning building, a superb concept worthy to house and enhance Len Lye’s work.”
Len Lye Foundation
Shortly before Len Lye’s death in 1980, arrangements were made to establish the Len Lye Foundation. In accordance with the artist’s Deed of Trust, his collection of work returned to New Zealand, the country of his birth.
Lye’s archives, sculpture, painting, textiles, and photographic work are housed and cared for at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery in New Plymouth, where regular exhibitions of his work are held. The New Zealand Film Archive is the repository of the Len Lye Foundation’s film collection.

The Len Lye Foundation is registered in New Zealand as a non-profit incorporated society. Its function is to provide for the conservation, reproduction and promotion of the works of Len Lye and to make facilities available for research. The Foundation holds copyright for much of the material it owns, and is empowered to issue prints of the artist’s films (where copyright and licence allow), authorise the publication of his written work, and to develop and edition reconstructions of his kinetic sculptures. From a vitally creative life of exploration and experiment, the Foundation has inherited a substantial body of work. The existence of the Len Lye Foundation ensures that this work remains an active cultural force.

The Len Lye Foundation is putting considerable resources into researching, restoring and reconstructing Len Lye works, which will be on display in the Len Lye Centre.

Govett-Brewster Earthquake prone status
In August 2012 the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery was identified as having ‘earthquake-prone status’ following detailed engineering evaluations.

Parts of the building were assessed as having a seismic strength of no more than 20 per cent of the New Building Standard (NBS) in the Building Act 2004, meaning the Council regards the building as earthquake-prone under the its Earthquake-Prone Buildings Policy. Funding for the required work will come from the New Plymouth District Council’s existing depreciation fund.

Media Release: New Plymouth District Council

Written by

The Big Idea Editor

25 Sep 2012

The Big Idea Editor

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