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Kim Lim Timeline

Kim Lim: Space, Rhythm & Light at The Hepworth Wakefield (25 Nov 2023 - 2 June 2024) presents the first major museum exhibition of Kim Lim’s work since 1999. The exhibition displays 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.

This timeline - which is also available to view in the exhibition - provides an overview of the artist’s life and work. A new publication, edited by The Hepworth Wakefield's curator, Dr. Abi Shapiro, explores Lim's outstanding body of work. In a series of fascinating chapters, leading art-world specialists survey the artist's rich career and legacy across four decades. A link to purchase the publication can be found below.

Please click and drag left & right to scroll the timeline

  1. -

    Kim Lim is born in Singapore to a family of Chinese heritage. She spends her childhood in Malaysia, specifically in Penang and Malacca.

  2. -

    For four years, Lim’s family remains in Penang during the retreat of colonial British forces and ensuing the Japanese occupation. They eventually return to Singapore where Lim finishes her schooling and takes up ballet.

  3. -

    Age 18, Lim arrives in the UK and begins her studies in fine art at St Martin’s School of Art in London, training for a brief period under sculptors Elisabeth Frink and Anthony Caro.

  4. -

    Lim transfers to the Slade School of Fine Art. She’s taught printmaking by Anthony Gross and Stanley Jones Director of Curwen Studio and continues working in sculpture

    As a student, Lim travels to India, visiting Panch Mahal in Fatehpur Sikri and the Ellora caves in Aurangabad. She also travels to Greece during this period. Lim document her travels taking photographs and developing them in her own make-shift darkroom. in her studio.

  5. -

    Lim meets artist William Turnbull and marries him in 1960.

  6. -

    Lim takes part in her first group show, 26 Young Sculptors at The Institute of Contemporary Arts in London. She exhibits two sculptures: Caryatid and Samurai.

  7. -

    Lim’s first child, Alex, is born and soon after Lim and Turnbull travel to Cambodia, Japan and other places in South-East Asia. In Cambodia, they visit Angkor Wat, which is a 12th century collection of Buddhist and Hindu temples. They travel to Kyoto and Nara in Japan to visit ancient temples and Zen Gardens.

  8. -

    Lim’s second child, Johnny, is born. The couple travel to Malaysia and Singapore to see Lim’s family.

  9. -

    Lim has her first solo exhibition, at Axiom Gallery in London, presenting a new body of large work in metal and wood. The architect Lim Chong Keat commissions Day for the Malaysia-Singapore Airlines building. Another version of the work is made in the UK for Sculpture in the Open Air in Battersea Park, London. These are her first outdoors works. Day is in the Wakefield Art Collection and can be seen in The Hepworth Wakefield Garden.

  10. -

    Lim has her first solo show at Alpha Gallery in Singapore, where she showed a series of prints.

  11. -

    Lim visits Europe. She travels from Dover to Calais, Dunkirk and Paris in France on route to La Coquille in the South-West. She then heads to Cortona in Tuscany, Italy. Her prints are displayed at Modern Art Oxford, curated by Sir Nicholas Serota in his inaugural exhibition series as director of the museum.

  12. -

    Kim Lim is chosen to be a part of the inaugural exhibition of the newly opened National Museum Art Gallery in Singapore. Lim’s works Day and Pegasus are shown.

  13. -

    Lim is included in the Hayward Annual exhibition. She is the only woman and artist of the Global Majority in the exhibition.

  14. -

    For the second Hayward Annual, Kim Lim is part of the first all-female selection committee along with Tess Jaray, Liliane Lijn, Gillian Wise Ciobotaru and Rita Donagh.

  15. -

    The Roundhouse Gallery, London presents Lim’s first major retrospective exhibition. After this exhibition, Lim exclusively begins to make sculpture in stone.

  16. -

    Lim’s stone works go on display for the first time at Nicola Jacobs Gallery, London.

  17. -

    Kim Lim visits Italy.

  18. -

    Lim and Turnbull display work at the National Museum Art Gallery in Singapore. They travel to China together, visiting the Silk Route. Lim recalled “I wanted to explore the beginnings of things that I like, which was the early Han and Chou and Shang, which is along the Yellow River basin”.

  19. -

    Lim declines the invitation of London-based artist, critic and curator Rasheed Araeen to participate in the 1989 exhibition The Other Story: Afro-Asian Artists in Post-war Britain at the Hayward Gallery. Lim said “to participate would be to self-consciously place myself in a situation of ‘otherness’”.

  20. -

    The first version of Riverstone (1990 – 91), Lim’s largest work, is displayed at Roche Court Sculpture Park along with other stone sculptures. Lim continued to carve despite having recently undergone spinal surgery. Lim travels to Indonesia, visiting the Prambanan temple in Java.

  21. -

    Kim Lim: Sculpture and Works on Paper, exhibition at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield.

  22. -

    Lim travels to Turkey, where she explored Çavdarhisar, Istanbul, Troy, and many other places in the country.

  23. -

    Kim Lim passes away in London surrounded by her family.