December 12, 2014 - Govett-Brewster Art Gallery - Sarah Wall appointed as assistant curator
December 12, 2014

Sarah Wall appointed as assistant curator

Left to right: the new Len Lye Assistant Curator Sarah Wall, Govett-Brewster/Len Lye Centre Director Simon Rees, and Len Lye Curator Paul Brobbel, with the Len Lye Centre under construction in the background. Photo: Pip Guthrie.

Len Lye Troika

Opening mid-2015

Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre
Devon Street West and Queen Street
New Plymouth 4342 
New Zealand

With the appointment of Sarah Wall as assistant curator, the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre is one step closer to having a full curatorial team—with eight months to go before opening. 

Wall joins director Simon Rees and Len Lye curator Paul Brobbel on the quest to make Len Lye a household name, or, at least have Len canonized within the annals of international modernism. A herculean task, you might think, from the distance of New Zealand and working outside the market-driven mainstream. You’d be surprised. 

As a London-based experimental film pioneer Len was a colleague and peer of the likes of Sergei Eisenstein, Oskar Fischinger, Norman McLaren, and Hans Richter. While in London he became a member of the Seven and Five Society alongside Ben Nicholson and a swathe of the British moderns. As a maker of camera-less photographs, which he called shadowgraphs, he was included in the London International Surrealist Exhibition alongside Max Ernst, Man Ray, Pablo Picasso and even made shadow portraits of Joan Miro, Georgia O’Keeffe, Le Corbusier and W.H. Auden. Always connected to literary circles, it was in his London years Len struck a lifelong friendship with Robert Graves. Later living and working in New York, Len was a well-known figure in the West Village who haunted the jazz clubs and drank at the White Horse Tavern with Dylan Thomas. In these years he spent much of his imaginative effort working on kinetic sculptures that now grace the collections of the Albright-Knox, Art Institute of Chicago, and Whitney Museum of American Art.

This means that the Len Lye Foundation Collection and Archive, housed at the Govett-Brewster/Len Lye Centre, is a rich vein for researchers, scholars, and curators—curious to know more about the recesses of experimental modernism in all its various guises.  

Sarah Wall will be facilitating such research in her role, in support of the Len Lye Curator. She will also lead ongoing identification and digitization projects within the collection and archive as well as the ever-appealing bringing objects to public light. Prior to joining the Govett-Brewster, Sarah lived in Melbourne, where she recently completed her PhD in art history at the University of Melbourne.

The Govett-Brewster Art Gallery is New Zealand’s museum of contemporary art. Since opening in 1970, the Gallery has dedicated itself to innovative programming, focused collection development and audience engagement. It has earned a strong reputation nationally and internationally for its global vision and special commitment to contemporary art of the Pacific. 

The Govett-Brewster is located in the coastal city of New Plymouth in Taranaki on the North Island of Aotearoa New Zealand—the perfect endpoint for a global quest.


Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre appoints Sarah Wall as assistant curator
Govett-Brewster Art Gallery
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