Saskatoon’s Handmade House is celebrating 50 years of Saskatchewan craft with their exhibition titled “Rooted,” on display until May 14 at the Saskatchewan Craft Council.
“Rooted” is a chance for people from all around Saskatchewan to invest themselves in the province’s art culture and celebrate the history of the store at the exhibition’s heart, Handmade House. Located in the Broadway district, Handmade House is an artist cooperative representing over 100 artisans that has offered a year-round craft market since 1972.
The exhibition highlights Saskatchewan’s craft scene and features pottery, ceramics, paintings, jewellery, prints, woodworks, fibre, glass and printmaking.
Cindy Wright, a local artisan and working member of Handmade House, says that “Rooted” is a celebration of the history and legacy of the artist cooperative.
“‘Rooted’ was created over two years,” Wright said. ”We wanted to bring a celebration and an awareness to the 50 years of running Handmade House as a cooperative.”
Included in the exhibition are works from members of Handmade House and special works on loan from both the Gabriel Dumont Institute and the SK Arts permanent collection.
Founded by five women, Handmade House began as a Christmas store focused on selling fine craft during the holiday season. After an outpour of public support within the first three years of its operation, Handmade House began selling professionally handmade craftwork year-round.
The store quickly outgrew its original location downtown at the Sturdy Stone Centre, and in 1988, Handmade House moved to 710 Broadway Ave., where it has remained ever since.
Over the last two years, the store has been at the forefront of incentivizing people to shop local. But Wright says that operating the store during the pandemic has not been easy.
“When the pandemic hit, we had to shut our doors for six weeks. There was no money coming in, but we were all willing to make sacrifices to keep the store alive,” Wright said.
As the store shifted online, Wright says that they were able to reach an entirely new audience of craft lovers in Saskatchewan.
“The online store kept us going. It became a very important platform for people to buy unique gifts handcrafted by artists. I think it was special in the time of lockdown and online interaction to have something tactile,” Wright said.
Despite the setbacks and struggles of the pandemic, the store has maintained its roots, focusing on the passion, process and love of handmade craft — the purpose of “Rooted.”
Whether it be to look around, or find a gift to purchase, visitors of the exhibition will gain great insight into the artisans from the land of the living skies.
Photos: Aleshba Naseer | Photo Editor