Bev Petow

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

Haute Couture at the Abkhazi Garden
Steel sculptures by Bev Petow
inspired by the glamourous wardrobe of the Princess Peggy Abkhazi
Opening at the Abkhazi Garden Saturday,  April 9, 2016
1964 Fairfield Road
Oak Bay, Victoria
Artist Reception April 9 – 4:30- 6pm
Princess Peggy Abkhazi had a far flung and privileged life. Born in Shanghai, orphaned at an early age and adopted by a wealthy childless couple, she lived all over the world until coming to stay in Victoria with her husband, an exiled Georgian prince, and over fifty years build an entrancing garden.���� She became the royalty that Victoria has always craved; she and the prince attended the balls at Government House and Union Club functions and Peggy Abkhazi always dressed like a princess. Fortuitously, some of her fabulous dresses have been kept by the garden and they are the inspiration for this show.
Beverly Petow is an American/Canadian sculptor whose work has been exhibited, admired and collected widely. A rare woman in the metalworking world, she creates pieces of exquisite delicacy in steel. Her many years of designing and sewing her own wardrobe shows in Haute Couture and her ongoing dress series.



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.! !