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

Sooke man pursues music for a lifetime

Al Pease has been playing music for over 65 years

Django jazz live in Oak Bay Saturday

Pearl Django performs Saturday, April 28 in the Upstairs Lounge, Oak Bay Recreation Centre,

REVIEW: Salt Baby’s search for identity begins at the Belfry

New stage show has plenty of story to work with, but the characters sometimes get lost in the mix

Rick Scott and Nico Rhodes bring ‘Roots & Grooves‘ to Duncan Showroom

There are 40 years between their ages but who cares when there’s this much talent going around

Theatre stops showing Amy Schumer movie trailer after Langley father complains

It ran before a family-rated movie where children could see it

Shania Twain visits Canadian Armed Forces base in B.C.

Canadian country icon thanks members of CFB Esquimalt for their service

Dinosaurs taking centre stage at National Geographic event

NatGeo Live series finale May 2 at the Royal features renowned paleontologist

Celebrate Earth Day with guided walks through Beacon Hill Park

Local naturalists explore Garry oak ecosystem on Camas Day

Shania Twain set to visit CFB Esquimalt

Country music star is meeting members of the Canadian Armed Forces

Blue Bridge Theatre kicks off it 10th season with fun Russian farce

Unique spin on Chekov classic promises surprises

Cochrane alters lyrics to honour Humboldt Broncos

Rock singer, performing at the Elements Casino grand reopening May 5, changes up ‘Big League’

Who’s afraid of Friday the 13th?

Is friggatriskaidekaphobia harmless fun, or should we be proceeding with caution today?

Scottish Country Dance Society members hone their skills

Annual workshops and ball a success, regular classes resume Tuesday

Saanich youth builds homes with words

1o-year-old Saanich boy wins $5,000 for Habitat for Humanity for his submission to poetry contest

Most Read