Pavo the Peacock helps mark milestone
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SOURIS — A new resident is nesting in the heart of Souris in celebration of the local beautification committee’s 25th anniversary.
Pavo the Peacock welcomes visitors in the east side of Victoria Park. The 12.5-foot stainless steel sculpture was created by Brandon-based artist Chad Hebner.
“I think we just enjoy it so much ourselves. It’s beautiful. Sitting at the peacock and looking at the creek where it joins into the river and waters is also an attraction,” said Souris Beautification Committee president Lynne Janz.
The committee began planning for its 25th anniversary in 2021. As members explored different ways to commemorate the occasion, the idea of a peacock statue took shape.
“Souris has been known over the years to have many peacocks running in the wild,” Janz said.
This spring, a new flock of eight coloured birds and one albino peacock were introduced to the community. The birds live in a barn located in the park the statue sits in.
Pavo was moved from Hebner’s workshop in Brandon to Souris via a car mover in mid-July, sitting upright and as one large piece.
“It was pretty exciting to see it coming down the street,” Janz said.
The Souris Beautification Committee planted 70 dozen annual and four dozen perennials to form a colourful floral tail for the metal peacock.
Janz has been with the Beautification Committee for two years. She praised past-president Leona Perkin describing her as instrumental in getting the project in place.
The committee launched 25 years ago centred on the idea of active community members helping make Souris as beautiful as possible, Janz said. This mandate has held true to today.
“They saw the potential of making Souris look beautiful,” Janz said. “It just grew from there.”
It initially started with couples undertaking beautification projects, but is now down to “a lot of women and a few men.”
The first project undertaken by the group was the main island on First Street and Crescent Avenue with the planting of 5,000 tulips. From there, they went down the town hill installing a “wheel” of flowers at the entrance of Victoria Park. The circular garden has been carefully planted to create the image of a wheel using different flower colours.
Projects have continued to grow over the years, with Pavo being the most recent addition.
The committee currently has 24 hanging baskets and 72 planters all around town.
“We plant those every year and put them out,” Janz said.
The committee is always looking for volunteers and funding to take on more projects, but no major projects are on the horizon after the triumphant installation of Pavo.
“I encourage all homeowners to keep their yards nice, and pull their weeds, and pull any weeds they see when they are out walking, and help us keep the town beautiful,” Janz said.
The sculpture’s creator, Hebner, lived in Souris before moving to Brandon in February 2014.
He has worked with metal since 2012 and began selling his sculptures at Timeless Treasurers in town.
While living in Souris, he was a grain buyer and got to know people from across Westman. These connections led to his art becoming better known in the community, and the eventual request to create Pavo.
The statue was originally supposed to be eight feet tall but eventually grew to 12.5 feet, and weighs in at 3,000 pounds.
“I really had no idea what I was getting into,” Hebner said with a laugh. “Every plan I had for three months in my head thinking about what I was going to do from day one, everything changed right to the very end. None of the plans were the same.”
It took him three months to agree to the project as he explored different ideas about how to bring Pavo to life and three months of hard work to physically create the sculpture.
The entire structure was created outside in his yard. It was a challenging experience due to the late spring, Hebner said, and at times he would pour hot water into his workspace because there was so much ice.
His father-in-law, Bob Richardson, helped during the project by drilling pre-holes in the feathers and removing the protective wrapping from almost all of the stainless steel.
“He saved me a lot of time. He saved me days and days and days [of work],” Hebner said.
Hebner was surrounded by curious and supportive neighbours who tracked the progress of the project — a duo even helped come up with the name Pavo.
The couple, Rose and Glenda, have been together for years and when Hebner’s workshop door goes up they tell him to “crank the music” as they check out his projects.
One day, they suggested the name for the metal peacock.
“Pavo just clicked. It makes sense,” Hebner said.
The name Pavo, and the peacock as a symbol, are layered with meaning — the peacock Pavo is a constellation in Greek mythology and the bird has become a symbol of support for mental health.
“I have extremely bad mental health problems with depression … I’m 44, I suffered with depression at an early age, it was pretty tough to talk about,” he said. “At this age, it’s still hard to talk about it. That’s why I did all of this. So I could.”
Pavo is dedicated to the artist’s grandfather, James Hebner of Gilbert Plains.
Hebner described his artistic style as freestyle — all the feathers are different sizes and each aspect of the statue was handcrafted with go-with-the-flow expertise.
He was feeling the crunch as the deadline for installation approached, he said.
“I put the feet on it, 10:36 p.m. I finished at night, and it was going the next morning,” Hebner said with a chuckle.
The creation of Pavo inspired Hebner to create a children’s book featuring a little peacock family that navigates issues youth can relate to. He plans on teaming up with local illustrator Courtney Weddall to create the books.
“The little peacocks have little problems and there will be little tips throughout the books,” Hebner said.
Pavo the Peacock will officially be unveiled as part of the 25th-anniversary celebrations on July 23 at 2 p.m. at the east entrance of the park. The event will feature refreshments and a ribbon-cutting.
» Twitter: @The_ChelseaKemp