Thursday, March 03, 2016

Time for a bit of a Lye down in New Plymouth

Best game in town has been watching the Govett-Brewster maneuvering its branding over the last month. After a year of Len Lye domination a recent media release subtly changed the tune by suggesting the new entrance is to a ‘combined art museum’. That’s one up for Monica’s gallery even if in reality it is pretty much a stairway to Len. The fact is the popularity of the shiny new Len Lye Centre has up to now rather skewed the hierarchy of the two institution but it looks like the pendulum is about to swing back towards the Govett-Brewster. The logo on the G-B’s new web site for instance has dropped the Len Lye Centre’s name and foregrounded the Saatchi & Saatchi rebrand of the Govett-Brewster as ‘Provocateurs’. We’ve also seen this fancy French word featured in G-B ads on the backs of buses so presumably we’re talking provocateurs as stirrers rather than criminal trouble-makers.

The up-coming 'all-galleries' exhibition of cameraless photography is also doing its bit to help push back on Len Lye’s domination of the Govett-Brewster. Taking up the entire building it will send the currently displayed Len Lye works packing and back into storage. This move has apparently annoyed some of New Plymouth’s politicians who see the Len Lye Centre as the destination magnet for the city rather than the G-B and who can blame them given the recent spectacular attendances.

The photography show Emanations is a big gamble for the Govett-Brewster and word is the show that has borrowed internationally has a huge budget. It's been suggested that nearly half a million has been invested in the exhibition although that hardly seems possible given the G-B’s total annual funding.  Removing the Lyes to accommodate Emanations is certainly a bold move, given that the Len Lye Centre has been open less than a year. And while cameraless photography may not be what you might call provocative, it will certainly put the Govett-Brewster back in the picture. 

Image: Govett-Brewster home page