Bamiling's vessels and sculptures communicate a unique connection between his hand and the hand of the final user. His approach is intentionally personal and multifaceted, which adds greatly to their presence and expression. The artist extends the potential of paper clay by utilizing grooving and finger-combing of strong patterns, various types of hand-modelling, slips and glaze patterns, even modelling the clay with handmade hair brushes in order to compose sculptural forms from fragments or impress the complete vessel with suggestions taken from nature.
I am entranced by the presence of clay, its possibilities for expressing boldness, movement, texture, colour, mystery and nuance - raw properties of the natural world around us. I work intuitively with it, as much as possible allowing its character to reveal itself through my manipulations. It really does feel like a conversation between me and the material – and I need to listen as much as impose.
The first and the final stages of creating work, arguably, most interest me. Moist clay is alive and ripe with promise, poised to respond to pressure and suggestion, to become something else. Then there is the ‘dead’ stage after the first firing, when that life is gone and the forms are bleached and static. The final stage involves decisions about surface – what colour, what treatment do I apply to reanimate the work through glaze and oxides? Although I often do title individual pieces, I don’t want to be prescriptive as to how people should view the work. The interpretations should be personal, fuelled by the viewer’s own perceptions. I want the work to feel as though there is something new to be noticed or learned with the next viewing.
Cup & Saucers reference the idea of function and Wands speak to earthly origins; on the other hand the textures and surfaces speak to time, geology and natural forces.
A practicing artist for more than 30 years, at The Banff Centre Ed Bamiling has been a Leadership Development facilitator for ten years, guiding creativity sessions with both public and custom programs, and is the Ceramics Facilitator with Visual Arts, in charge of all aspects of operating the ceramics studio, as well as consulting with and assisting resident artists on their projects. He has exhibited his work widely in solo and group exhibitions, both nationally and internationally.
For Ed Bamiling, the first time he saw someone throw a pot began a life-long fascination with, and dedication to, working with clay. “I was mesmerized by it and wanted to try it. I still have the first pot that I threw on the wheel thirty years ago, because it actually worked out. I think it was beginner’s luck, but I was hooked.” The process, the aesthetic, the tactile medium spoke to him from the very start and in turn, he uses this medium as a way of helping people (re)discover and explore their own creativity, both personally and professionally.
Bamiling characterizes his medium “as particularly friendly because lots of participants played with clay, or mud, when they were kids. There’s a tactile memory that makes it pretty safe. It’s very pliable and malleable; everybody can create something. I think that eases the way.”
2017, New Works for A New Year - Willock & Sax Gallery, Banff
2003, Passages - The Whyte Muesum of the Canadian Rockies, Banff, AB
2002, New Works – Ed Bamiling - Woong Gallery, Seoul, Korea
1992, From There to Here - The Whyte Museum, Banff, AB
Vignettes - National Exhibition Centre, Castlegar, B.C.
1989, Ed Bamiling: Ceramics - Richmond Art Gallery, Richmond, BC
1988, Works from Banff - Langham Gallery, Kaslo, BC
Ed Bamiling - Raku - Gallery of the Kootenays, Nelson, BC
1986, Ed Bamiling - Recent Work - Culpepper Gallery - Calgary, AB
As a young artist, Ed Bamiling participated in the development of the paper clay process at the Banff Centre. Now as Director of the Ceramic Program at that facility, he continues to work with the medium.
Paper clay allows for a greater flexibility in design and manipulation through the incorporation of an abundant amount of cellulose within the clay body. This affords the artist increased latitude in form. Where there is a gain in flexibility to develop typically difficult shapes and details, there is a shift in normal processes of working with clay. Greater percentages of cellulose greatly alter drying and firing processes as well as other technical considerations. This necessarily demands greater attention to such things as shrinkage values during the stages of development from clay to fired object.
In other words, paper clay is a technically challenging but aesthetically rewarding medium.
Read Cole Carruther's article in the Rocky Mountain Outlook: On A Whim for Bamiling.