Sask. Carver makes fruit art that pleases the eyes and the palate
When most people look at a watermelon or an apple, they see a snack.
Hilda Shangotola, on the other hand, sees swans, flowers and faces.
The fruit artist from Regina is now sharing her love of fruit carving with others through her Fruit Art School, giving people insights on how to turn an edible product into a feast not only for the stomach but also for the eyes.
“I would say craving food is like a dance between art and fruit,” she said. “Every type of fruit has its own unique qualities – the texture, the colour, the flavor – and as a food carver I can take those qualities and turn them into something really fascinating.”
Shangotola’s interest in this ability was sparked after attending a wedding in the UK, where she was living at the time. After seeing the fruit art exhibition, she thought about it for days afterwards.
“I did a little more digging and found that it’s an entire industry unto itself,” she said. “And I was like, ‘Okay, you know what? This is something I really enjoy doing for myself.'”
Listen to Hilda’s interview on CBC Saskatchewan’s The Morning Edition:
It came at a time when her sister was battling cancer, which got her thinking about the importance of incorporating fruits and veggies into a healthy lifestyle.
Since then, she has taken professional classes and carved for everything from corporate events to showers and weddings, as well as adding classes to teach others the skills of fruit carving.
Her work piques the interest of students in her class, who have learned that traditional artistic skills are unrelated to their ability to carve fruit.
“I was so scared because I couldn’t draw, and I felt like maybe fruit art is only for people who can draw,” said Chiome Okokwo, who lives west of Regina.
The end results after her first foundation course surprised her.
“I was really, really proud of myself. I didn’t think I could do something like this, so it was fulfilling.”
That kind of feedback is exactly what Shangotola wants to hear.
“I just love to see their bright faces because I know they can create something extraordinary,” she said. “I just love holding her hands and guiding her through the whole process.”
It is their hope that leads to more people embracing the arts.
“I really hope to spark a wave of enthusiasm for the craft and educate more Canadians about it because it’s still uncommon. There is room for many more people to learn this skill and I hope to be able to do so in Regina and, hopefully, throughout Canada.”