Bestiaries | Hannah Lim
14 September - 7 October 2023
PV Wednesday13th September 6.30 - 8.30 pm
*please note the gallery will be closed Wednesday 20th September
Wilder Gallery presents ‘Bestiaries’ a solo exhibition by the London-based artist, Hannah Lim. The exhibition will showcase Lim's body of work from ornamental sculptures to wall-based works, which elegantly and playfully bridges her Singaporean and British heritage through a modern reinterpretation of Chinoiserie.
Lim will showcase 10 snuff bottles and 6 paintings, drawing inspiration from Chinese mythology. Her work delves into Chinese bestiaries found in texts such as 'The Classics of Mountains and Seas' and Pu Songling’s 'Tales of a Chinese Studio.' In addition, Lim has integrated elements from Medieval bestiaries, weaving parallels between the two traditions, and merging the creatures and their narratives to form her process of sculptural storytelling.
Lim’s sculptures are vibrant and whimsical, reminiscent of the colourful architecture in Singapore. Reinterpreting the claw-like feet of chinoiserie furnishings, she equips her sculptures with hands and feet, giving them a playful anthropomorphic quality.
At the heart of Lim's work is a deep-rooted exploration of identity. Drawing from her mixed Singaporean and British heritage, she delves into the historical intersections of these cultures, particularly as reflected in furniture, objects, and architectural designs. Lim's intrigue with Chinoiserie, an 18th-century design trend that melded Chinese aesthetics with European tastes, results in sculptures that reclaim this cultural mosaic with both consciousness and creativity.
Furthermore, Lim's engagement with Anne Anlin Cheng's 'Ornamentalism' punctuates her artworks. This feminist theory, which delves into the portrayal of East/South East Asian femininity as inherently ornamental, resonates powerfully with Lim's own examinations of identity. For Lim, the over - ‘ornamentalisation’ or flamboyance of her work has become a way of pushing against fixed notions of identity and race that are often a point of confusion and struggle for those who come from mixed cultural backgrounds.
Lim has previously had solo exhibitions at renowned spaces including Edinburgh Printmakers and Huxley-Parlour gallery, and has featured in group exhibitions with The Royal Scottish Academy and Bloomberg New Contemporaries. Following her recent commission for the Tate Collective, Lim is currently Pangolin London’s artist in residence for 2022-2023.
‘The works in the show are ornamental, creaturely, animistic and intricate - inspired by my research into Chinese and Medieval Bestiaries as well as imagery and objects that have become symbols of my heritage.’ Hannah Lim
‘The striking colour, form and symbolism in Hannah's work speaks eloquently and uniquely of her mixed cultural identity and heritage. The works reflect a hybridised East-West aesthetic and touch upon ideas of colonialism and appropriation. For example, the colour palette and decorative elements in the works reference the Peranakan aesthetic, which takes influences from Chinese, Malay and Western influences. They also reference Singapore shophouses, which are characteristically pastel and candy coloured and were built during the colonial era.
On a personal level, having grown up in Singapore and being part Singaporean myself, I find a deep resonance with Hannah's explorations into the complexities of multicultural and Eurasian identity and belonging. It not only aligns with my own experiences but also evokes a poignant touch of childhood nostalgia.’ Michelle Lee Medjeral-Thomas, Gallery Director
Hannah Lim b.1998 is a London based artist working between sculpture, installation and drawing. She received her BA in sculpture from the University of Edinburgh and her MFA from The University of Oxford’s Ruskin School of Art. She has recently had solo shows with Edinburgh Printmakers and Huxley-Parlour gallery whilst also exhibiting in group shows with The Royal Scottish Academy and Bloomberg New Contemporaries. She was recently commissioned by Tate Collective to create a sculpture in the style of her ‘Snuff Bottle Series’ for Women’s History Month. She is currently Pangolin London’s artist in residence for 2022-2023.
Hannah Lim, Ruby Dragon Snuff Bottle, 2023, Jesmonite, polymer clay, chalk, acrylic paint and resin gloss, 16 x 18 x 12 cm
Hannah Lim, Jewelled Dewdrop Snuff Bottle , 2022, Jesmonite, polymer clay, chalk, resin gloss, 18 x 15 x 10 cm
Hannah Lim, Peacock Snuff Bottle, 2023, Jesmonite, polymer clay, chalk, acrylic paint and resin gloss, 16 x 18 x 12 cm