From movies to books to fashion, steampunk is everywhere — including at the Ladysmith Waterfront Gallery.
The gallery’s latest show, SteamPunk, runs through March and celebrates the strange and beautiful combination of machinery, fashion and the retro-futuristic.
As a movement, steampunk is generally thought to have started in earnest in the late 1980s — though elements that are now classified as steampunk appeared much earlier — but as a genre, it didn’t really take off in pop culture until more recently. An aesthetic that mixes elements of the Victorian era and the Industrial Revolution with Goth, science fiction and the Wild West, steam punk has wide appeal. Featured heavily are cogs, vintage steam-powered machinery, and ornate, dark clothing and accessories reminiscent of the Victorian era, but with a modern or industrial edge. It’s not unusual to see a steampunk woman wearing a corset and leather aviator goggles, or an everyday object such as a spider re-imagined as a mechanical creature.
Steampunk also features “collections of things that are kind of obscure … odd objects like old dental tools. Weird and wonderful things that are beautifully crafted,” said gallery curator Leona Petrak.
At press time, the gallery’s art intake hadn’t occurred, so Petrak was unsure of what exactly would be submitted. But, she added, the steampunk esthetic lends itself well to both wall art and sculpture, and she hoped that artists would submit all kinds of pieces.
Because of steampunk’s popularity, Petrak is hoping the show will attract some new faces to the gallery.
“It is so wild and wacky and the costumes are so attractive, and I think it appeals to people’s sensibilities,” said Petrak. “It’s like the naughty Victorians.”
The desire to attract new people to the gallery is part of an ongoing drive to involve young people in the art scene in Ladysmith. For budding artists, Petrak said the gallery is a great way to test the waters and get comfortable showing their art publicly.
“We would really encourage young people to come along and take part and enjoy the gallery,” she said, adding that SteamPunk will appeal to people of all ages.
SteamPunk runs from March 1 through 26, with an opening gala Saturday, March 1 at 7 p.m. The gala is open to the public, and attendees will have the chance to view the art, enjoy refreshments and listen to a presentation by guest speaker Tina Fabbro. Petrak said everyone attending is invited to get in to the spirit by wearing something steampunk, whether it be an accessory or a whole outfit.
“It would be really fun if people would come to the opening, and if they could wear something steampunky, that would be fabulous,” said Petrak.