Local Singaporean Artist Spotlight: Lim Kim Hui

Lim Kim Hui Local Singaporean Artist Spotlight: Lim Kim Hui
Lim Kim Hui (Singaporean Ceramic Artist)

Lim Kim Hui has been involved in the arts his entire life, working with ceramics and teaching for over forty years. From a young age, he loved painting, and during high school, he was the champion of the school art competition and served as an assistant in the art society. He was the only student in his school to achieve an A1 in art during his secondary exams.

During his two-year military service, he designed emblems for the armored vehicles he operated and would draw temporary tattoos with a marker in exchange for instant noodles, cigarettes, and toilet paper in the evenings when there was no military training; customers even had to take numbers and queue.

His first job in 1980 was as an apprentice in a newly established factory, Ming Village, that produced replicas of ancient Chinese ceramics. Although he lived in the east and the factory was in the west, requiring four hours of daily commuting, his passion for the job was evident. Initially hired to paint blue and white porcelain, the factory saw his youth and strength and assigned him to production, specifically making vase prototypes—a factory employing 300 workers.

In production, he also learned to create sculptures and worked with a master from Taiwan to learn mold-making and replicate these sculptures in fiberglass. After mastering plaster mold-making, he rotated through various departments—original molding, production molding, slip casting, and finally wheel throwing—all the while teaching ceramics to students who came to learn.

After ten years at Ming Village, where he learned techniques for replicating traditional Chinese blue and white porcelain available nowhere else in Singapore, he also met his wife, a painter of blue and white dragon and phoenix designs.

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In 1990, desiring a space for creative freedom, he took over a pottery studio in the Tampines industrial area. Despite the challenges of covering living expenses and studio rent, he found freedom tough but fulfilling, handling all tasks from production to glazing and firing kilns.

His work was diverse, accepting any orders that could be made from ceramics, such as fishing rods, cameras, and cakes (for display only). Despite previously focusing on blue and white porcelain and overglaze colors at the factory, he sought to satisfy his passion by experimenting with various high-temperature glazes, starting with traditional ones like cinnabar red and celadon, and later exploring Japanese glazes like Shino, Oribe, and ash glaze. However, these glazes, referred to as “kiln transformations” due to unique effects achieved by wood-fired kilns under oxygen-restricted conditions, could not be replicated in modern electric kilns.

Environmental constraints have made wood-fired kilns rare, thankfully offset by modern inventions like electric and gas kilns. After establishing his studio, he bought a second-hand gas kiln and spent considerable time experimenting with high-temperature reduction glaze formulas, successfully testing thousands of formulas and documenting over two thousand firings.

Due to the limitations of using a single type of clay at Ming Village, he began formulating high-temperature clays, especially suitable for pairing with tenmoku glazes, and occasionally using local clays to make Jian ware.

From 1980 to the present, spanning over forty years, he has taught ceramics to thousands of students in his studio and ten primary and secondary schools, held personal ceramic exhibitions, led numerous student group exhibitions, and participated in international ceramics exhibitions in Shanghai, Japan, Belgium, and Taiwan. He was also invited to participate in the “2018 Dehua He Chaozong Cup Tea Set Industrial Design Competition” in China, where he won an award of excellence.

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Lim Kim Hui,一生与美术为伍。陶瓷制作及教课超过四十年。

1980年踏入社会的第一份工就是到一间刚成立的制作仿中国历代古瓷的工厂(明园,Ming Village)当学徒。家住东部,工厂在西部,每天花在交通上两边来回就用了四个小时,可见对这份工作的热爱。




Tenmoku Blue Glaze


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