Gorgeous Peranakan Inspired Artwork by Artist With Strong Ties To Japan
Active Women in Singapore series
Jennifer Lim is an Australian artist residing in Singapore with a surprisingly deep connection to Japan. In the fourth part of our series on Active Women in Singapore, I'd like to introduce Jennifer and delve into her interesting background.
Although she was born in Sydney, Jennifer’s father is Singaporean and her mother is Australian. As an artist, Jennifer’s work is rich with originality and creativity through her fusing of cultures and her experience of various countries and regions. Her long-time ties to Japan can be felt upon seeing her art and glancing at her resume. Jennifer is also a fluent speaker and reader of Japanese.
When Jennifer was six years old, she moved from Australia to Japan after her mother took up a year-long position as a visiting lecturer at the University of Tokyo. At that time, her mother’s love for art, and ukiyoe prints in particular, had a huge impact on Jennifer, which she says influenced her career choice immensely.
When she was in high school, she visited Japan again as an exchange student. She attended a public high school in Nagoya, where she wore a ‘sailor’ style uniform while clutching a dictionary in her hand. After returning to Australia, she was accepted into the Australian National University. In her third year of university, she joined a year-long exchange student program at Kyoto Seika University.
It was during this period that Jennifer became increasingly interested in Kyoto’s unique culture and frequently visited antique stores and flea markets. She began collecting kimono and now owns a sizeable collection. She sometimes even wears them when she goes out to events.
Even after becoming an adult, her ties with Japan continued to grow. Her first job brought her to Okinawa, which she chose because of its unique indigenous culture and historic connection to China. She began working for the international relations section at the Okinawa Prefectural Government. During this time, her interest further grew in Okinawa’s colorful and unique culture. She later moved to Tokyo and continued working as a translator and interpreter at a city bank and various embassies.
Amid her busy life, Jennifer was suddenly forced to deal with a near-death of a close family member. This experience became the reason for shift back to the world of art. She moved to Singapore and started to embark on her true passion.
Since having two children, Jennifer has managed her time so that she can share her love of art with others. She has taught at LASALLE College of the Arts and regularly hosts workshops at her studio and externally. She is active in the art world and participates in art festivals and art exhibitions.
I recently attended a workshop by Jennifer and learnt to print using the Japanese woodblock technique. I found her teaching style to be very open and relaxed. Many of her art workshops focus on Peranakan culture due to Jennifer's interest in her heritage. Her artwork is also unique and frequently contains references to her background. She uses linocut printing, and traditional Japanese woodblock printing as the result of her student days in Kyoto.
Inspired by a heritage tile I spotted at my great-grandfather's ancestral temple on Cantonment Road. Seven blocks are needed for this technically challenging print - and lots of chocolate to keep me going!
The next generation of Peranakan culture lovers! A group of budding Japanese artists recently produced some gorgeous work in a private printing workshop. With English up their sleeve, these kids may well be future ambassadors for Peranakan culture in ways we can't imagine.
Also a mother, I love seeing the confidence and sense of wonder on my kids' faces when we do art together. I recently held a private workshop for parents and kids to learn some Peranakan inspired printmaking. It was lovely to see parents designing and creating with one or even two of their children!