23 Apr 2020

Len Lye Centre co-directors quit to return home

4:56 pm on 23 April 2020

The first-ever co-directors of the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery / Len Lye Centre in New Plymouth have quit after barely a year in the job.

Aileen Burns and Johan Lundh are returning to Canada.

Aileen Burns and Johan Lundh are returning to Canada. Photo: Photo / Mark Dwyer

Aileen Burns and Johan Lundh were appointed in January last year, but are taking up a new role in Canada.

"It's been an honour and a privilege to have been the co-directors of the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre. The chance to lead the Remai Modern gallery in Saskatoon, Canada, was too good an opportunity to turn down and it will be wonderful to be close to our family, especially during these difficult and unprecedented times," they say.

The move to Burns' homeland will also allow the couple, who have a young daughter, to be closer to family.

The highlight of their tenure at the New Plymouth District Council-owned gallery was 50th anniversary exhibition and celebrations marking that milestone.

The Wellington waterfront sculpture by Len Lye was snapped by a man swinging from it.

The Len Lye sculpture in Wellington was damaged by a man climbing on it last year. Photo: VicDeals

Recreation and culture manager Teresa Turner said the couple have left the gallery in excellent shape.

"We were very lucky to get such a dynamic duo at the gallery and while we're sad to see them leave, they have done a superb job and we wish them the very best for the future."

Turner said the Covid-19 situation meant the gallery would look to appoint a new director towards the end of the year.

The gallery, which according to research company Berl added $5.6m in GDP to the local economy in 2016, is closed during the national emergency.

It is bringing art and other cultural content to audiences online and has teamed up with Pop-up Poetry Taranaki to launch "The Art of Poetry" - a weekly open call for poems about art on Instagram and the website and is also working with the Taranaki Arts Trail on the "Window Gallery" programme, to bring art to the streets.

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