At the British Art Fair this year Offer Waterman will present a curated display of graphic works by Kim Lim (1936-1997) and William Turnbull (1922-2012).
Kim Lim arrived in London from Singapore in 1954 aged seventeen to study at St Martin's School of Art. She met William Turnbull at a ceramics class taught by Helen Hatori in 1958 and they married in 1960. Their happy creative partnership was founded on a mutual admiration for each other's work and a shared fascination with non-western and archaic forms of art including Cycladic, Indian and South-East Asian art. They traveled extensively including to Greece, China, Indonesia, Cambodia, Egypt, Malaysia and Turkey. Lim and Turnbull made their work separately but in closely proximity. Both kept studios within their home in Camden Square, their art filling the house and garden where they brought up their two sons.
While both artists are best known as sculptors, for Lim in particular, printmaking was a significant parallel activity. Lim's prints encompass etching, lithography, woodcut and screen printing and she had her own printing press in her studio. She once explained that her sculpture was more concerned with 'space, rhythm and light, than with volume and weight' and this is reflected in the exquisite delicacy and economy of her print work. The display covers many of Lim's key motifs including circles, ladders, waves and stacked forms, the imagery of her prints always in close dialogue with her sculptures in wood and her stone and marble carvings.
Turnbull turned to printmaking at various times but his output was smaller as he also produced large-scale paintings, collages and works on paper, to which printmaking was complementary. The prints by Turnbull here reflect two different aspects of his work. Sextet, 1966, mirrors the format of Turnbull's oil paintings in which large fields of flatly-applied colour are activated by thin bands of a contrasting hue. While his exuberant Leaf Form prints describe exotic plants seen in the Cambodian jungle. Turnbull's leaf drawings inform later bronze figures, such as Large Siren, 1986, which are broad and curvy from the front and very thin in profile.
There are moments where the two artists' imagery seems to align and, at other times, one appears to adopt a subject from the other. Circle motifs are common to both artists - Lim's are entirely abstract, while Turnbull arrives at the same image through a simplification of the human head. Lim's woodcut Gate, 1974, for example, appears two years after Turnbull's polished steel sculpture of the same title, but a decade after both artists first encountered torii gates in Japan. It is a conversation that goes back and forth, their art sharpened and enriched by the supportive presence of the other.