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  Liberated from the Grain

by Dave Yanko

Michael Hosaluk

Several summers ago, Saskatchewan wood-turning artist Michael Hosaluk helped host an international conference of wood crafters at Emma Lake, located at the southern edge of the province's boreal forest.

One of the highlights of the conference had seemingly little to do with woodwork. It was an evening spent viewing Northern Lights.

"They were amazed," Hosaluk says of the 100 artisans from the United States, New Zealand, Australia, England and France.

- all art photos courtesy A K Photos

Seeing others experience the skyward spectacle for the first time reminded him why he chose to live and work in Saskatchewan, his life-long home. From an acreage located just outside of Saskatoon, Hosaluk travels the world, showing his art and teaching wood-turning. Occasionally, someone asks him why he lives so far away from the major markets.

He simply tells them: "Saskatchewan's a nice place to be. It's home. My family's here. I like living here."

Northern Lights is the name of one of his beautiful creations - a star-studded blue vase with gold-leaf highlights. Beyond the local birch and maple wood that are his chosen media, however, Hosaluk feels no pressing obligation to imbue his works with elements characteristic of Saskatchewan.

Like all lives, Hosaluk's has been an evolution. During his childhood days on the farm, he fashioned wooden toys for himself and friends. As a young man earnestly embracing the craft of wood turning, he gained wide recognition for bowls and objets d'art he created turning burls, the dreamily-grained outgrowths found on tree trunks.

Over time, however, his creativity was stanched by the burls. His work was guided by material and technique, rather than his own creativity. He dabbled in metal and plastic, but discovered some of the souls who inhabit those worlds have personalities that reflect their media.

As a child of the prairies, Hosaluk grew up in a place where nature holds sway molding character. The warmth of wood, and the people who work with it, drew him back to the natural material. But not to burls.

He now creates shapes and vessels out of ordinary wood, completing his ideas with paint.

"What I do now are stories of my life and my travels," says Hosaluk. "The burls were a phase I went through. They gave me the technical knowledge, and now I can be more creative."

Hosaluk's path led him beyond the beauty of wood grain to the freedom of creative expression.

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