Sculpting Lives: Kim Lim

Apr 07, 06:00 AM

Kim Lim was born in Singapore and moved to Britain in the 1950’s to enroll at art school. Despite a successful career (there are over 80 of her works in UK public collections) she has been left out of histories of 20th century British Art. This episode explores the reasons for that and ask how these exclusions happen.

“Being female and foreign was never a problem as a student, later I realised that there was a difference, but what was important in the end, was what I did and not where I came from. Race and gender were givens I worked from, perhaps the work does reflect this which is fine, but I did not want to make them an issue.” Kim Lim 
 
Kim Lim was born in Singapore and moved to Britain in the 1950’s to enroll at art school. Despite a successful career (there are over 80 of her works in UK public collections) she has been left out of histories of 20th-century British Art. This episode explores the reasons for that and ask how these exclusions happen.
 
We examine the presence of ethnic minority artists in public collections in the UK – looking at histories of British Art and how to expand the narratives. Kim Lim was married to a successful artist – William Turnbull – and has traditionally been viewed in that context. We also consider the posthumous work that her family have done to secure her legacy and reputation. 
 
 “She never wanted to be perceived as being ‘other’ just because she was a woman and foreign.” Bianca Chu, Deputy Director, Sotheby’s S2. 

With contributions from:

·      Alex Turnbull, Son of Kim Lim
·      Hammad Nasar, Senior Research Fellow, Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, and curator of the British Art Show 9
·      Bianca Chu, Deputy Director, Sotheby’s S2

Image: Kim Lim with Abacus (1959), ca. 1959, courtesy of the Estate of Kim Lim