Back to Nature

Grace Lim with one of her favourite pieces at her first
solo exhibition now on till March 2
Grace Lim, 45, the third of 6 siblings, grew up in Kampung Kayu Ara Pasong, a village near Pontian.  The rustic scenes she saw as she walked to school with her brothers and sisters, passing through rubber estates and the backyards of Malay kampongs or villages, are an inspiration for her art.  Lim recalls how they played hide-and-seek with their neighbours, caught tiny fish from clear streams and thrilled to an over-active imagination – sometimes even imagining ghosts chasing her as they walked through lonely paths!

During the school holidays, Lim and her cousins had more outdoor fun together when they stayed with her maternal grandparents in a village in Ulu Choh.  At age 12, Lim had an early experience of drawing human figures when she sketched an A3 size portrait of her grandmother using 2B pencils.  This portrait is a family treasure which remains proudly displayed in grandfather’s house to this day.

Lim's paintings are accentuated by secondary subjects
like a bird or a cat, as in this piece of a bathing boy
Art, obviously, was her favourite subject in school and even though she excelled in drawing and painting, Lim did not take it seriously until she started working in Singapore.  Determined to hone her skills in art, she took a part-time course with a Graphic Design School and armed with her qualifications, she embarked on a career in Graphic Designing.  As she worked with a silkscreen printing company, Lim not only found success and satisfaction in her job but she also met and married Eric Tan in 1995.

Encouraged by her husband, who also has an appreciative eye for art, Lim began to focus on her painting in 2005.  She started painting water-colours mostly of landscapes with kampung scenes and seascapes that featured kelongs and sunsets.  Lim then went on to explore painting still life in the Peranakan theme as well as semi-abstract pieces of tropical flowers using an impasto technique.

While paintings of rural scenes are inspired by local
village life, Lim's paintings reflect a uniquely Asian theme
Very soon Lim discovered that her preferred medium of painting is in oil colours and her signature painting style is a form of naïve art.  Her signature style with bold strokes, bright colours, cute faces and curvy figures, is characterised by simplicity in subject matter and technique, and influenced by her early impressions and experiences of village life.  Inspirations from her childhood memories married with a vivid imagination for an idyllic tropical paradise are expressed in her paintings.  And when her first piece of naïve art featuring children eating coconuts under a tree, was sold, Lim was very encouraged. 

Some of her paintings are reproduced in
museum quality Limited Prints
A series of Lim’s paintings entitled, “Back to Nature” are presented in her first solo exhibition in the Old Street 52 Studio at Tan Hiok Nee Heritage Walk from now till March 2.  These oil-on-canvas pieces with rural scenes are inspired by Lim’s Malaysian kampongs experiences but elements from her imagination renders them as uniquely Asian.  Some of Lim’s paintings are also reproduced in museum quality Limited Prints.

The exhibits in “Back to Nature” are for sale with a percentage for donation to the fund-raising effort of Care Haven Children’s Home in Taman Rinting, Masai.  

Lim with a painting of children playing
the traditional congkak
“The Home has a vision to start an Eco Farm for the children to enjoy being closer to Nature and to provide jobs for the youngsters,” said Lim, a mother of two who has a heart for needy children.  Lim said her paintings depict scenes of a lost paradise and aims to bring this beauty back through her work and her support of the vision for an Eco Farm here.

Thrilled that her art is well received by corporations and private collectors locally and abroad, Lim is ready to expand her collection and accept commissioned work.  Meanwhile she is looking forward to her next show at the International Women’s Day Art Exhibition held in Kuala Lumpur this March.  For enquiries, Tel: 016 – 788 2420 or email:

A version of this article was published in The New Straits Times, Johor Streets on 21 February 2013

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