• Tue. Jun 18th, 2024

Ornamental Mythologies: Hannah Lim At Edinburgh Printmakers

BySienna Hammond

Jan 1, 2023
Weeping Petals in the Rain by hannah limHannah Lim, 'Weeping Petals in the Rain', Shown at Edinburgh Printmakers

Singaporean-British artist, Hannah Lim, returns to Scotland for her first solo exhibition exploring her heritage and the intricacies of traditional Chinese design through a series of intricate objects and prints. 

Having studied at Edinburgh College of Art, this is Lim’s full circle moment of returning to Edinburgh, this exhibit creates an impactful statement of origin and placement that coincidentally links to her thematic concept of heritage. I think this exhibition, much like Maria Klabin’s Brazilian-inspired exhibition in New York and The Tate’s ‘Life Between Islands’ exhibition, is a sign of the times where different cultures can be celebrated, and more importantly, their art can be acknowledged as their own genius inventions. This can be evident in the worldwide attention Lim’s vibrant artwork has accumulated, with there being further shows in New York and Milan later this year. Lim hopes to reinstate the importance of origin, as she reminds the audience of the art that had once been taken and appropriated from the Asian communities by British colonial conquests. In this regard, Lim’s latest exhibition may be seen as a homage to her mixed heritage, a blend of cultures:

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.”   

Looking through Lim’s collection, it is clear her inspiration did not hinder her exploration of different mediums, as the exhibition features intricate prints and decorated 3D furniture-like structures. The most impactful, I believe, are her delicate prints filled with vibrant colours and interesting detail. The piece ‘Weeping Petals in the Rain’ delicately drawn, thin-stemmed wilting flowers cover the page. The rain surrounding these flowers are interpreted as tears from the eyes that rest upon the stems; this sense of both voyeurism and agony created by these eyes is something that can be seen in many of Lim’s works, and thus, pervades the whole collection. Whether this symbolises the upset caused by the appropriation of Chinese art, or whether Lim means to tell a different story – perhaps one of the relationships between nature and man or a homage to the creatures and anthropomorphism that exists in Chinese culture and art – this piece serves to be a vital instigator to thought and discussion and is an aesthetically beautiful piece. 

As it’s a free event, I urge you, readers, to decide for yourself how to interpret Lim’s pieces and ultimately, explore how we as a society may judge art that challenges our ancestral history.

Hannah Lim at Printmakers is running until the 20th of November 2022. 

Image credit: ‘Weeping Petals in the Rain’ by Hannah Lim, used with permission.