Hannah Lim

22/04/2024

“My practice has been a way for me to explore parts of my cultural identity. As a woman of mixed Singaporean and British heritage, my work explores the relationship between these two cultures, looking to how this has been reflected historically through furniture design, objects and architecture”

AT: Where are you from and how/why did you start engaging with art?

HL: I was born and grew up in Isleworth in West London. I’ve always been quite creative but I was also quite interested in science and maths whilst growing up, I hadn’t always imagined I’d end up being an artist. After doing my art foundation at Central Saint Martins in 2017 I decided I was sure I wanted to study art and more specifically sculpture!

 

AT: When did it become serious?

HL: I graduated during the lockdown in 2020 but managed to continue sharing images of my work online throughout that period. During that time I had started a new series of work, my ‘Snuff Bottles’, a series of smaller, more intricate and ornate works that seemed to really engage people. I think these new works in particular generated a lot of interest in my practice and I started being asked to exhibit more frequently, my career grew from here.

 

AT: Are there any person who has been significant in your affirmation as an artist? Are there any artists who influenced your works? 

HL: I assisted Tai Shani back in 2019 whilst I was still doing my undergraduate degree, I became particularly drawn to her work after seeing one of her installations/performances at Glasgow International back in 2018. I think my experience of Tai’s work has informed how I approach installation within my practice. I’ve come to see my sculptures and paintings not just as stand alone works but rather interconnected pieces, fitting together to form a broader narrative and composition.

Hannah Lim, Shards of Fire, 2022

AT: What is your first approach to the work? How would you describe your practice? 

HL: My work takes quite a lot of inspiration from furniture design, when I was studying I used furniture and architectural design books as references for a lot of my sculptures. I’m also really interested in artefacts and objects that are both functional and decorative, I often look for these kinds of objects in museums and archives. I also love using Pinterest and Instagram to further explore different references and imagery I’ve been drawn to. My practice has been a way for me to explore parts of my cultural identity. As a woman of mixed Singaporean and British heritage, my work explores the relationship between these two cultures, looking to how this has been reflected historically through furniture design, objects and architecture. I became intrigued by the 18th-century design trend, Chinoiserie. A trend through which elements of Chinese design and culture were recreated and imitated in relation to European aesthetics and tastes. In my own work, I attempt to reclaim and re-imagine this practice in a more conscientious way. My sculptures often draw inspiration from specific cultural styles or processes. Both ornamental and functional designs are blended together in my larger and smaller scale works.

 

AT: What are your favourite tools and materials for working?

HL: I enjoy working across a range of media. Most of my large sculptures are made with plywood, paint and lacquer whilst my smaller snuff bottle sculptures are made using jesmonite and polymer clay. I also paint sometimes usually in watercolour or oil.

 

AT: What do you feel while you work? Do you usually think about the final outcome beforehand?

HL: It depends on the type of work I’m making. If it’s something large and sculptural there is usually a lot more planning, designing and material consideration that goes into the work. Most of my larger sculptures are made through laser cutting and slotting together segments of wood so it’s important that this process is really thought through. On the other hand my snuff bottle works and paintings are made in a more intuitive way

Hannah Lim, Moon Rabbit Snuff Bottle, 2023
Hannah Lim, Sea Creature Shrine Snuff Bottle – KIRKI, 2023

AT: How do you understand that a work is finished?

HL: Usually there is a time constraint on the work I’m making, whether it be for a show, commission etc.. and so often finishing a piece will be based on how much time I allow myself to spend on it. I do sometimes however add back into pieces that I’ve previously viewed as being finished, transforming old works into new ones.

 

AT: How important is the role of social media for you?

HL: Social media really helped me establish a career after I graduated, especially as I graduated at a time where I couldn’t have a degree show – during the 2020 lockdown. It’s enabled me to interact with new artists, different galleries and also provides lots of inspiration for my work. I’ve discovered so many new techniques, materials and processes through social media.

 

AT: What is your opinion about the development of Web 3.0 (NFTs, Metaverse, etc.) and their impact on the art world?

HL: I’m interested in digital art and the way it can interact and influence physical art forms however I’ve never really delved into the world of NFTs. I think as someone who has studied and continues to work with sculpture, I’ll always be most drawn to physical works or the intersection of digital and physical sculpture.

Hannah Lim, Illuminated Dragon, 2023 
Hannah Lim, Tyger at Midnight, 2023

AT: As an artist, what is your point of view about the contemporary art system?

HL: It’s complicated, it serves a few but not many artists.

 

AT: What do you find to be the most challenging or daunting thing about pursuing art? What is the most rewarding part of working as an artist?

HL: It’s unstable, I still feel like I don’t quite fully understand the art world, how it works and how I navigate it but I suppose that’s what makes it exciting. I feel lucky to be able to make work about things I’m interested in and are important to me and to be able to share those ideas with people that see and interact with my work.

 

AT: What do you do besides art?
HL: To be honest a lot of my time is taken up with art, it’s a very all consuming career. I do really enjoy
going on long walks, it always helps me clear my mind and figure out my next steps in my practice.

 

AT: What are your goals and expectations for the future?
HL: I want to keep making bigger, more challenging, more exciting pieces of work. I’m always wanting to try out new materials and processes. I love collaborating too, its always exciting and interesting to adapt my practice in new ways.

Install shot “Shards of Fire” | Solo exhibition with BeAdvisors (2023)