Submitted by: Sydney Luther, Communications Assistant

The Emma 2014 International Collaboration took place this past week, and it seems very timely to find out just how it came to be. With a decades-long history, Emma is now hosted biannually at the Ness Creek Festival Site.

Michal Hosaluk
Jamie Russell
Don Kondra

A trio of Saskatchewan woodworkers – Michael Hosaluk, Jamie Russell and Don Kondra – began organizing woodturning symposiums and workshops in Saskatoon in the early 1980s at the Kelsey Campus. They began the symposiums because there was a lack of formal craft education in Saskatchewan, beyond the weaving and pottery offered at the University of Saskatchewan.  Their woodturning conference was staggered biannually with a furniture conference in the same venue and eventually these two events were merged in 1985 and became a biannual event together.

Collaboration at a past Emma. 
In 1996, the first Emma Lake Wood Conference was organized and was held at the Emma Lake Kenderdine Campus, after the Kelsey Campus cabinetry program closed in 1994. The event was “agenda free and hands-on,” which is a mantra continued to be upheld by Emma Collaborations today.

The attendees were invited to the collaboration and these included longtime woodturners, as well as newer, less experienced artists. Although it began as a woodturning conference, many new mediums were added, including glass etching, metal casting and fabrications, beadwork and Japanese lacquer. Each year, new mediums are introduced and focused on. Now, Emma involves almost every craft medium one can imagine!
A past Emma Auction.

The main hope of the event is that all attendees will act as both teachers and students. Participants are urged to try new things and experiment with other artists. The seclusion of the event means that artists can completely immerse themselves in the art they create during the collaboration. A public auction is held at the end of the week-long conference, the proceeds of which are used to fund future Emma Collaborations.

Today, over 100 artists are invited from all over the world to attend. The event was moved to Ness Creek in 2006, although it kept the Emma name. The event continues to uphold the original intent, which was to hone a creative environment without a set agenda, at which artists can learn and grow. The Saskatchewan Craft Council has been involved since 1982, working as the administrative support to the creative event.

The Emma 2014 International Collaboration Auction is taking place this Thursday, August 7, 2014 at PAVED Arts and AKA Gallery in Saskatoon. You can view the event poster here. Attend for your chance to view and purchase the beautiful collaborative artwork created at the conference!