Friday, November 28, 2014

Lye's sculpture dead in the water

It’s spring and the minds of local authorities throughout the country turn to maintenance. Here in Wellington public sculpture got a bit of a beating over winter. The spinning cubes of Leon van den Eijkel's Urban forest all but ground to a halt, Phil Dadson’s Akau Tangi was rarely all systems go, Phil Price’s Zephyrometer was literally blown out of the sky by lightning and the other pointy stick sculpture Len Lye’s Water Whirler doesn’t any more.

While Price is rebuilding Zephyrometer it’s probably time to call it quits on Water whirler and admit that Wellington's Lye is a no-go. The City Council has already repaired just about every component at some stage largely because of the effects of numbers 11 and 17 on the periodic table. Anyone who lives near the water in Wellington knows about salt corrosion, it’s probably what is slowing down the van den Eijkel and Dadson as well.

Anyway just do the math. WW was intended to run for 12 minutes nine times a day adding up to whirl action for around 655 hours a year. It has now been operating (theoretically) for nine years. Most marine engineers will tell you that a marine engine is best for the first 500 hours, so-so for the next 1,000 and after that….  And it's not a complete loss. The Ian Athfield base could come into its own as a diving board or somewhere to do a selfie with Wellington's harbour.

Images: top, figuring that Water Whirler is no longer functioning the base has become a popular picnic spot. Middle, Oriental Bay's Carter fountain being repaired and bottom, Kon Dimopoulos’s Pacific grass is given a spring steam clean.