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ArtsLost and Found: 15 Minutes with William Lim

Lost and Found: 15 Minutes with William Lim

Lost and Found: 15 Minutes with William Lim
By Joanna Lam
September 14, 2015

The acclaimed architect and artist speaks to us about his journey of creativity, his ties to Chinese culture and the unique facets of Hong Kong

The story began on the day William Lim began to learn about architecture.

For the longest time, Lim had been searching for a way to reconcile his dual identities of architect and artist, but now the man behind CL3, a multi-disciplinary architecture firm, has had a breakthrough with his identity crisis: he can be both, at the same time. Noted for his innovative aesthetics, use of Chinese motifs and an appreciation for the blend of old and modern, Lim is a key player in our city, whether it’s within its architectural industry or thriving art scene.

To celebrate the four decades of the Cornell graduate’s career, William Lim/Fundamental: 40 Years of Design Inspiration from the East allows us to revisit his journey of creativity though a myriad of designs, art and collected pieces.

Ahead of this landmark exhibition at ArtisTree, Lim tells us how he overcame conflicts of identity, the influence of Chinese culture over his work and why Hong Kong is so interesting to him. 


 During the time from 2008 to end of 2010, I was hoping to have one side of me who is clearly an artist, as opposed to an architect. Over the three years, I painted over 100 paintings, and I found myself going around in circles and not leading to anywhere that I was happy with. During that time I spoke to some important art curators and told them about my struggles, and then they told me, “Instead of making them two, why not just look at it as one thing that’s inside me?”

Now I don’t intentionally separate these two sides of me. I let my art come out of my architecture. So in this exhibition I’ve started to do some art and creations which come out of my architecture work. The two are coming out as one thing.

It’s important that I collect certain things and they live with me for a while. Then one day when I’m working on a project, it’ll click that there’s an interesting relationship between those two.

I think Hong Kong is not about one thing – it’s about a mixture of various things. I think that’s really the reason why Hong Kong is so interesting to me. Similarly, I don’t want my art creations to be purely about one thing. I want it to be a mixture of different things – texture and emotional response.

Paying tribute to my Chinese roots, “Drifting Pavilion” touches on the idea of flexible and nomadic structures through the concepts of space, communication and familial ties. There’s so much emotions contained in a letter, but unfortunately we don’t do that anymore. So I want to create that nostalgic feeling of communication between people.

I want to create this very temporary and transient feeling, and that to me is very Hong Kong. Nothing is permanent, it’s almost as fragile as paper – this city is constantly changing.

Nowadays I feel that we are always looking at the west for inspiration, I hope that the younger generation will start to look at our own culture and discover things that are interesting. I think Hong Kong is a lot more interesting to foreigners than to Hong Kong people. Foreigners are fascinated with our wet market, bamboo and scaffolding. I hope that our younger generation can re-discover that and help to preserve this

William Lim/Fundamental: 40 Years of Design Inspiration from the East
Date: September 5 – 27, 2015
Time: 11:00am–7:00pm, Tuesday to Sunday
Venue: 1/F Cornwall House, Taikoo Place, 979 King’s Road, Quarry Bay; +852 2527 1931

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Artswilliam limartistree40 Years of Design InspirationCL3Drifting Pavilion40 Years of Design Inspiration

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