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Water Whirler

Image by Keith Miller

Water Whirler

Artist Len Lye
Location On a custom made pier adjacent to the Frank Kitts playground
Tour directions Head down the stairs to the waterfront walkway, and head towards the playground


The Govett-Brewster Art Gallery in New Plymouth is the home of the archives and studio collection of the Len Lye Foundation.

Sculpture background

Len Lye was born in Christchurch and is known for his experimental films and kinetic sculpture.

Lye's posthumous Water Whirler was unveiled in 2005. It was originally concocted by Lye in the 1960s as an 'old doodle" on the back of a postage stamp. He wanted

"a fantastic choreography, jet-streams fling their spray, in three dimensions."

The project to realise Water Whirler took four years to research, develop, manufacture and install.

Using a computer, the twelve meter pole on the pier shoots rhythmic jets of water creating patterns in the air and on the sea. When not working, the piece is simply a static pole. 

Hours: Water Whirler plays in 12 minute cycles, on the hour at 10am, 11am, 12 noon, 1pm and 3pm, 6pm, 8pm, 9pm and 10pm. 

There is a "windicator" light on the pier. If this light comes on, it means the work cannot be performed because the wind is too strong.

Len Lye on his work in the twenty-first century

"Flip and Two Twisters"

Flip & Two Twisters is a Shirley Horrocks documentary about Len Lye (available on nzonscreen.com)

Flip & Two Twisters (Documentary)