The Duthie Gallery is pleased and proud to be presenting Delicacy of Steel – a new show of Bev Petow’s extraordinary steel sculptures – – featuring her meticulously crafted steel dresses from the haute couture of the French Revolution – the ‘flamboyant self-indulgence of its “one-percenters” – to the loose body-conscious moderns with their fast fashion – these works of fine sculpture reflect a deeper concern with the uneven fabric of society so explicitly conveyed through attire.
July 2 to August 15. Opening Reception Sunday July 2nd, 5 -8 pm
Previous exhibition, Abkhazi Garden, Victoria 2016-2017
ARTIST STATEMENT 2014 – BEVERLY A. PETOW
I learned to sew when I was 12. I learned to weld when I was 37. I married the two
together when I was 53 to create my first metal dress. ! !
The timing of creative evolution has it���s own mysterious construct in my life. ! !
As a girl I spent untold hours in my father���������s mechanic shop, where I learned the basics
of tools, machines, and the process of ‘thought-design-creation.’ Concurrently, my
mother aided in my learning to design and sew clothing. In the 60’s and 70’s fabrics and
patterns were cheaper than manufactured clothing and a 20+ year long exploration of
clothing design ensued, ranging from bluejeans to business suits to a velvet and lace
wedding dress.! !
After years of working in Graphic Design, I entered art school at midlife and discovered
both an aptitude and affinity for working in 3 dimensions and a love of steel in all it’s
forms. I moved to Vancouver Island, BC and began an 8 year period of self-education in
metal fabricating, largely from found objects, combining and transforming them into
semi-functional, decorative creations.! !
In 2009, the death of my closest, long-time girlfriend became a pivotal inspiration toward
creating clothing in steel – in tribute to her. I experimented for the first time with a
material I had formerly seen and used in more commonly held ways. ! !
The first, and what I thought at the time would be the only dress, was rough, elemental,
explicitly feminine, but overtly void of its owner. It encapsulated exactly my feelings of
loss, her departure from this world, and the things we held in common that would
survive us. Its cool steel folds communicated a conflicted edge of masculinity and
femininity, integrating my sensibility in clothing design into an overtly, industrially
charged material.! !
The challenge in working with steel, of course, is to convey the essence of fabric in
texture, weight and fold and my intent is that the idea of the dress precede the
recognition of the material of which it is constructed, and that the form intimate the
essences of having been worn, having had a previous owner, and the gnawing
juxtaposition of something timeless and yet ephemeral.! !
For me, all clothing contains a subtle yet many-faceted layering of communication – a
visual language all its own. Styles evolve with society’s endless search for selfexpression.
It performs as protection, as well as projection. Colour, line, silhouette, and
fabric all coalesce to convey an intangible relay of information regarding, among other
things, gender and sexuality, economic standing, political or religious status or military
power. ! !
The enduring nature of steel allows me to capture the essence of a person in a stopmotion
moment, until the moment outlives the person.! !