The life aquatic explored in Len Lye’s latest exhibition

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A new exhibition at NPDC’s Govett-Brewster Art Gallery|Len Lye Centre explores Len Lye’s connection to the natural world through the artist’s use of aquatic landscapes and imagery.

Len Lye: The Edge of the Sea is an opportunity to consider the organic world at the centre of Lye’s practice, beyond the more widely understood areas of engineering and experimental cinema,” says the exhibition’s curator Paul Brobbel.

“Len Lye’s childhood was spent in Aotearoa, notably at Cape Campbell where the wild and rugged Marlborough coast had a profound impact on his outlook on the natural world.”

Paul says throughout his life the artist continued to be drawn to the edge of the ocean in locations such as Samoa, the Mediterranean, Martha’s Vineyard in the USA, and Puerto Rico.

“Each location had an impact on Lye’s relationship with the natural world and his artistic visions.”

The exhibition considers the rhythms, motions, and sensations that Lye felt in the natural world, drawn from items in the Len Lye Foundation collection alongside works from Lye’s archives housed at the Gallery.

The exhibition includes an impressive range of works, from debut film Tusalava (1929) to more obscure film pieces. The recently reconstructed kinetic sculpture Albatross (1965, 2015 reconstruction) offers a deeper dive into Lye’s kinetic sculptures.

Extending Lye’s status as a multimedia artist, generations before the term was invented, a number of significant paintings of the late 1970s are also included in Len Lye: The Edge of the Sea highlighting the central role painting held in Lye’s practice.

Len Lye: The Edge of the Sea is showing at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery | Len Lye Centre until Sun 8 October 2023.

A range of public talks, film screenings and education events have been developed to support the exhibition – find out more at



  • Govett-Brewster Art Gallery opened in 1970, funded by a bequest from local woman Monica Brewster (nee Govett), with the Len Lye Centre opening within the Gallery in 2015.
  • The Gallery has won numerous architectural and design awards, as well as being recognised for its exhibition programming.
  • The Gallery is owned and operated by NPDC and attracts more than 70,000 visitors a year.
  • The Gallery also runs an art and design store, an art-house cinema, and holds regular education and public programmes relating to the exhibitions and contemporary conversations.


Caption:  Len Lye, The Edge of the Sea 1. Photo Cheska Brown.