by Dave Yanko
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
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
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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