Haute couture sculptures fused with steel

East Sooke artist Bev Petow finds her solace in visual metaphors

Bev Petow's Dragon Aunt dress forged from steel will be shown at Abkhazi Gradens throughout the summer.

The sparks will be flying this month in sculpture artist Bev Petow’s East Sooke metalworking studio, as she puts the finishing touches on a set of four life-size steel dresses.  The intriguing garden sculptures will have their public debut at the season opening of the Abkhazi Gardens on April 9.

All this came about when a box of Princess Peggy Abkhazi’s  haute couture cocktail dresses was found in the house when it was finally taken over by the The Land Conservancy.  Now these visual metaphors for Peggy’s life and spirit will be on show throughout the spring and summer.

How did Bev, the woman of steel,  come to take an unforgiving material like metal and develop an expertise in creating steel dresses?

She was introduced to tools and machines in her father’s mechanic shop and was given her love of design and sewing at 12-years-of-age by her mother.

After many years of working in graphic design, Petow went back to art school in mid-life — graduating with honours from Marylhurst University in Portland in 1998 when she picked up the welding torch at the age of 37.

“Steel is my main medium of expression although I have worked with many materials in both 2D, 3D and on computer.

“My process is a balance of construction and deconstruction as I focus on the forces of integration and decay that are constantly co-creating the world,” states Petow on her website (www.bevpetowdesign.com).

The steel dresses?  When a dear friend  of hers from childhood, with whom she had always sewn cloth dresses, passed away from a lingering leukaemia illness she fell into depression. Petow had nursed her to the end.

Devastated by this loss, lethargy set in. Then one morning she heard her friend’s voice declare firmly to her, “Get back out into the studio.”

This snapped her out of her mood and she thought, “Okay, I’m a metalwork artist – what should my next project be?”

She began  designing and fabricating dresses  to be used as garden sculptures, based on the 60s and 70s designs that she and her friend used to make. Their combination of industrial masculinity and delicate femininity were an instant success and have made their way into art galleries and gardens across North America.

“I hand-cut the material using a plasma cutter or a grinder with cutting blade,” she explained. Then she bends, cold hammers and welds pieces into flowing shapes that evoke the human form.  As you can imagine, it is very heavy labour.  She keeps fit with jazzercise three times a week and has a good chiropractor.

The results are intriguing costumes that are mysteriously lacking any bodies inside — even though they may weigh up to 40 pounds.

Rust? A coating of linseed oil helps even out the eventual beauty of weathering.

 

Petow’s work will also be seen at the Sooke Philharmonic Orchestra’s Secret Garden Tour on June 5 and the Stinking Fish Studio  Tour running from July 21-15. The summer tour brochures for the studio tour will be available for download in June. The summer tour map will be up the end of May and will show the locations of the artists’ studios and the list of artists participating (www.stinkingfishstudiotour.com. Petow is showing her work at the Bellevue Art Museum biennial show is September as weil.

 

 

Just Posted

Woman charged in Saanichton stabbing

One man treated for injuries, released from hospital following Friday assault

Sooke’s First Nations have Iroquois links

References to the proud Iroquois race tend to make one think of… Continue reading

Avid Victoria cyclist’s legacy bike ride helps fund end-of-life care

2019 Denis Muloin Ride for Palliative Care invites cyclists for May 26 fundraiser

Funnyman coming to the West Shore

Comedy and television staple Billy Gardell performs at Elements Casino

Police-run Youth for Change and Inclusion camp bids fond farewell to tireless directors

Founder Sgt. Paul Brookes has run camp empowering youth and creating leaders for 16 years

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Growing wildfire prompts evacuation of High Level, Alta.

Chuckegg Creek fire has been burning for several day, but grew substantially Sunday

Top women’s hockey player Natalie Spooner coming to B.C.

Natalie Spooner special guest at annual Grindstone charity weekend in Kelowna

Take-home drug testing kits latest pilot to help curb B.C.’s overdose crisis

Researchers look to see if fentanyl testing could be a useful tool for those who use drugs alone

Facebook takes down anti-vaxxer page that used image of late Canadian girl

Facebook said that the social media company has disabled the anti-vaccination page

Search crews rescue kids, 6 and 7, stranded overnight on Coquitlam mountain

Father and two youngsters fall down a steep, treacherous cliff while hiking Burke Mountain

Raptors beat Bucks 118-112 in 2OT thriller

Leonard has 36 points as Toronto cuts Milwaukee’s series lead to 2-1

Rescue crews suspend search for Okanagan kayaker missing for three days

71-year-old Zygmunt Janiewicz was reported missing Friday

B.C. VIEWS: Reality of our plastic recycling routine exposed

Turns out dear old China wasn’t doing such a great job

Most Read