First UK institutional solo show for artist Hannah Lim opens at Edinburgh Printmakers

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First UK institutional solo show for artist Hannah Lim opens at Edinburgh Printmakers
Hannah Lim, Box of Beasts, 2022. Photo courtesy of the artist.

EDINBURGH, UK.- Edinburgh Printmakers is hosting the first solo exhibition in Scotland by emerging Singaporean-British artist Hannah Lim whose vibrant artworks have captured the attention of audiences worldwide ahead of further shows in New York and Milan later this year. The London based artist will work in printmaking for the first time as she continues her exploration of East and South East Asian culture and its appropriation for Western audiences.

Speaking on her work artist Hannah Lim said: “As a person of mixed Singaporean and British heritage both my research and practice has come to engage with the colonial connotations of the relationship between the East and the West. These connotations are most evident in themes such as Orientalism and its relationship to Chinoiserie; an 18th century aesthetic trend in which elements of Chinese design were recreated in relation to European aesthetics and tastes. I attempt to re-imagine and reclaim ideas and designs associated with Chinoiserie, which have in the past had problematic colonial undertones. Cultural designs are shared as opposed to appropriated, it is no longer about one culture being moulded to the demands of another.”

In her latest exhibition Lim draws on her research into animism as both her larger furniture-like works and smaller ceramic works have a level of anthropomorphism, allowing the artist to develop an idea of living objects. Her research involved looking at a range of Chinese literature focused on enchanted creatures and objects and mythical storytelling. These include the ‘Classics of Mountains and Seas’ and Pu Song Ling’s ‘Tales of a Chinese Studio’. In attempting to interpret and respond to these texts, which are often coded with philosophical and cultural meanings, the artist has developed a practice of sculptural storytelling that explores her own journey of identity searching. The works in this exhibition see Lim interpreting and merging imagery, motifs and stories from Medieval and Chinese bestiaries and mythology.

“I’m intrigued by the crossover of ideas, creatures and anthropomorphism that exists in these Chinese and Medieval bestiaries. There’s something intriguing about this shared desire to understand and give meaning to these real and imagined ‘beasts’. This whole avenue of research ultimately evolved from exploring my Chinese-Singaporean family’s relationship with Christianity and how that has impacted my understanding and exposure to certain aspects of Chinese culture, overtime it has evolved into something more playful and peculiar.”

Alongside this the artist has started to examine the ‘ornamental’ nature of her work, and in doing so is engaging with the text ‘Ornamentalism’ - a feminist theory for East/South East Asian personhood developed by Anne Anlin Cheng. Cheng explores the historic portrayal of East/ South East Asian femininity as something associated with ornamental language, aesthetics, objects and technology.

“Through developing an understanding of Cheng’s ‘Ornamentalism’ I’ve been able to examine the role of the ‘ornament’ within my own work. For me the over ‘ornamentalisation’ or flamboyance of my 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 are ‘mixed race’.”

Hannah Lim at Edinburgh Printmakers sees the artist return to Scotland’s capital following her time studying Sculpture at Edinburgh College of Art. Following her graduation in 2020 in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic the artist has been working on a series of projects encompassing art, architecture and design from her studio in East London. In keeping with previous exhibitions Lim’s installation will see her unique visual language run throughout the exhibition as prints are framed in ornate colourful laser cut frames and smaller ceramic pieces sit on top of custom designed plinths mirroring the larger laser cut sculptural works.

Speaking ahead of the exhibition opening curator Tiffany Boyle of Edinburgh Printmakers said:

“As an organisation dedicated to both making and exhibiting, it has been really exciting for us to see Hannah create work in print for the first time, with a lot of synergy between her mark-making in drawing and etching. The work produced for the show also highlights the facilities available in our digital studio, such as laser-cutting. It’s really significant to Edinburgh Printmakers to give time and space to emerging artists to sustain their practice, introduce them to printmaking methods and facilitate experimentation.”

Running alongside Hannah’s exhibition in Gallery 1, will see Gallery 2 host artist-researcher Catherine Baker whose practice investigates the impact of illness and diagnosis on the individual and those they share their lives with and what it means to be measured and mapped as a clinical experience that focuses on the biological body. Her current work within the context of illness and disease responds to ideas of imperfection, straightness, repair, often explored through metaphors such as the ‘bow’, which is frequently used in quality wood-working to ‘repair’ fractures that appear in diseased timbers, within the context of illness and disease.

Hannah Lim

Hannah Lim b.1998 is a London based artist working primarily in 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 shown with The Royal Scottish Academy, Bloomberg New Contemporaries, Berntson and Bhattacharjee Gallery and 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 has upcoming shows in New York, Milan and Hong Kong.

Hannah’s practice is mainly influenced by her cultural identity and experience. As a woman of mixed Singaporean and British heritage, her work explores how the relationship between these two cultures is reflected in furniture design, objects and architecture, through which her practice has largely come to focus on the eighteenth-century trend of Chinoiserie – the European interpretation and imitation of East Asian designs and artistic traditions. Hannah attempts to reclaim and re-imagine this style of making in a more conscientious and culturally appropriate way, exploring and reinterpreting cross-cultural design in relation to her own mixed heritage.

Recent solo and duo shows include; ‘Inanimate Creatures’, Changing Room Gallery, London, (2022); 'In The Margins’, Commonage Projects, London, (2022); Women’s History Month Commission for Tate Collective (2022); 'Collective Objects' with Hugo Harris, HOME by Ronan Mackenzie, London (2022). Group shows include; 'Red Room', Berntson and Bhatacharjee Gallery, London (2022); ‘Next’, Christie’s, London (2022); ‘Eat Drink Man Woman’, 180 The Strand, London (2022); ‘Into the Fire’, Grove Collective, London (2022); ‘Konomad’, Tokyo (2022); ‘Under Your Spell’, Collective Ending, London (2021). Awards include Bloomberg New Contemporaries (2021) and RSA New Contemporaries (2022).

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