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Kim Lim working on Twice, 1968. © Estate of Kim Lim / Turnbull Studio. All Rights Reserved, DACS. Photo: Jorge Lewinski. © The Lewinski Archive at Chatsworth. All Rights Reserved 2023 / Bridgeman Images
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Kim Lim: Space, Rhythm & Light

25 November 2023 – 2 June 2024

Exhibition entry is £13 / £11 / FREE for Members, Wakefield District residents and under 18s. Ticket includes entry to all our gallery spaces on the day of visit.

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This autumn, The Hepworth Wakefield will present the first major museum exhibition of Kim Lim’s work since 1999, offering unparalleled insight into the artist’s life and work. Space, Rhythm & Light will display over 100 artworks created over four decades by Lim, alongside extensive archive material, most of which has never been seen publicly before, to show the full breadth of Lim’s work.

Lim (1936-1997) was born in Singapore to Chinese parents. She travelled to the UK in 1954 to study art, first at Central Saint Martin’s School of Fine Art (1954 – 1956) where she was taught by Anthony Caro and Elizabeth Frink and then at the Slade School of Art (1956 – 1960). Lim remained in Britain for the rest of her life, establishing a successful career that has since fallen from view; her work was acquired for museum collections across the globe and she had substantial exhibitions at Axiom Gallery, London, National Museum of Art, Singapore, and Tate Gallery, London. In recent years, Lim’s work has begun to feature more prominently in major group survey exhibitions and publications, bringing her important artistic legacy back into view in British post-war art histories.

Space, Rhythm & Light will explore Lim’s focused engagement with abstraction across a wide range of media and materials. Inspired by forms found in the natural world as well as those in global cultures, Lim’s distinct contribution to 20th-century British sculpture and printmaking has been widely overlooked compared to her contemporaries. On display will be Lim’s multipart wood and metal sculptures that defined her work between the 1950s and 1970s, as well as her later minimalist stone carvings made in the 1980s and 1990s. The exhibition will pay special attention to Lim’s printmaking – a practice she felt was equally important as sculpting, but for which she is less well known. Prints and unique ‘paper cut’ works will be displayed with corresponding sculptures to show how methods of carving were interconnected in Lim’s interdisciplinary exploration of nature, light and architecture. Also featured will be selected maquettes, sketchbooks, audio recordings, and documentary photographs of Lim’s own personal library of research objects and her studio.

Lim cited travel as one of the most important aspects of her art education and development, and visited Japan, Cambodia, Malaysia, China and India between the 1960s and 1980s to ‘see things in its place where it was meant to be, in the light that it was meant to be’. Rarely seen photographs taken by the artist documenting her travels in Asia with her husband, the artist William Turnbull, will highlight how Lim absorbed diverse cultural and historic references, as well as drawing on her own multicultural background, to develop her minimalist approach to abstraction.

‘Space, Rhythm & Light is the most comprehensive exhibition of Kim Lim’s work to date. Lim’s contribution is often overlooked in histories of post-war British art, but here, in the context of the legacy of Barbara Hepworth at The Hepworth Wakefield, there couldn’t be a better time or place to showcase the quality and value of Lim’s work. I am very grateful to the Kim Lim Estate for their generosity in allowing us to share so much information which will provide visitors with an in-depth understanding of how Lim developed her technical mastery of numerous materials as well as her own unique style and visual language.’ Dr Abi Shapiro, Curator



Exhibition supported by

Kim Lim Estate/Turnbull Studio
Michael & Yvonne Uva