Len Lye's 'Wind Wand', New Plymouth, Taranaki, New Zealand, 21 April 2006
This sculpture is 45 metres high and located on the waterfront in a very windy spot. The pole sways dramatically in the wind and at night the light on top creates an endlessly fascinating effect.
Len Lye was a New Zealand born artist who lived most of his life in New York and was a central figure in the kinetic art movement. He left a large quantity of his works to the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery in New Plymouth, together with many plans and conceptual drawings for works he never constructed.
In the past few years there has been a fashion in New Zealand for local authorities to use this archive to construct some of his concepts. This is one of them. As usual with Len Lye the idea was much rubbished, but now it is there it has become much loved and a great tourist attraction.
However building Lye's concepts is a high risk project. The 'Water Whirler', built last year in Wellington, is great when the water is whirling, but nothing more than a thin pole when it isn't. The problem here is the complexity of the engineering. 'Water Whirler' has spent most of this year out of action due to engineering failures.