Artist Profile: Kim Lim

1 March 2018

Born in Singapore in 1936, Kim Lim moved to the UK at the age of 18 to study at St Martin’s School of Art in London (1954-56). Here, Lim developed a particular interest in wood carving.

Lim continued her studies at the Slade School of Art (1956-60) where she studied printmaking under the etcher, Anthony Gross, and the lithographer, Stanley Jones. After graduating in 1960, Lim exhibited her work widely. She also travelled extensively with her husband, the sculptor William Turnbull. Lim made trips to China, Indonesia, Cambodia, Egypt, Malaysia and Turkey, finding inspiration in the visual cultures of ancient civilisations: 'I found that I always responded to things that were done in earlier civilisations that seemed to have less elaboration and more strength.'

Lim’s sculptures of the 1960s and 1970s were often carved in wood and explored a narrow range of forms and shapes with great inventiveness. There is a particular emphasis on rhythm and repetition, with forms becoming flatter and never any bigger than the artist could handle herself.

These characteristics can be found in Candy (1965), a work that explores balance, colour, form and Lim’s notion of 'less elaboration and more strength’. The raw material of the work is hidden under thick layers of coloured paint. This painted surface emphasises the symmetry and repetition of the simple forms.

From 1980, Lim turned to stone carving and continued to make prints and drawings alongside her sculptural practice. Over the course of her career, Kim Lim had solo exhibitions at Tate, the National Museum of Art, Singapore, Modern Art Oxford, Yorkshire Sculpture Park and Camden Arts Centre. Her work is held in public collections across the world including the National Museum of Art, Singapore, Tate, the Arts Council Collection, the Government Art Collection and the Hepworth Wakefield.

Candy (1965) features in the Arts Council Collection touring exhibition Kaleidoscope: Colour and Sequence in 1960s British Art currently on show at Walker Art Gallery, National Museums Liverpool (until 3 June 2018).



The Arts Council Collection is the UK's most widely seen collection of modern and contemporary art.

With more than 8,000 works by over 2,000 artists, it can be seen in exhibitions and public displays across the country and beyond. This website offers unprecedented access to the Collection, and information about each work can be found on this site.