As we collectively stay at home during these turbulent times, how are artists coping, and what are they brewing up at home? Artists @ Home is a series of email interviews with artists where we find out what they’ve been up to, as all of us, voluntarily or not, embrace the home as work and studio space.
Lim Qixuan, or Qimmyshimmy as her fans know her, is a talented sculptor beloved for her macabre, yet strangely captivating, faux-edibles that brim over with baby skulls and miniature human organs. Knowing this, one might imagine her home to resemble that of the child-eating witch in Hansel and Gretel, yet it is anything but. In this interview, she gives us a peek into her home studio, as well as the thoughts that fuel her work.
What’s different about working from home rather than from the studio?
Not going to office every day is a little strange, but the introvert in me is celebrating all the extra hours that I now have to myself. Working from home is definitely more productive in terms of working hours (less waiting and traveling time), but I can see how it will not be good in the long run. I think a huge part of my work comes from seeking inspiration from the experiences that I get from the ‘outside world’, and not having all of that is making me feel a little bored and stuck. It will be nice to head out again!
What is one place that you’d make a beeline for once lockdown is over, and why?
Oh my, it changes every day for sure, depending on my mood! But this is my favourite question to think about right now, because it makes me so excited for that day to finally come. At the moment, I would love to finally see my loved ones in person, treat myself to a nice cocktail in my favourite bar, followed by a night walk along the Singapore River. I really miss the evening breeze, and sitting and chatting with friends by the promenade. I am a proud homebody but the lockdown is seriously testing my love for staying home!
You’ve got so many interesting knick-knacks surrounding your space! Would you tell us a little more about how they come into your possession, and whether they inform your own work in any way?
This would not come as a surprise to anyone, but I do love old, creepy-cute things. I have a small (but growing) collection of dolls, trolls, taxidermy animals, skulls, copper coins, you name it. I love travelling, and these little knick-knacks I collect remind me of places that I have lived and been to. They all have their own story, and that is why keeping them near me makes me feel whole and inspired. I even keep small, individually labelled vials of water that I collected from oceans and streams (and even melted snow!), to remind me of the parts of the world I have seen and fallen in love with.
Tell us more about your studio set-up at home. Where and how do you work?
I told myself that I should not pay for a studio space unless I need it. So until that day happens, I will work from the comfort of my bedroom, which is spacious enough for the small scale of my works. I have an extendable table that I pull out to make my sculptures when I need to. I think this really helps me to section my two practices mentally; when the table is up, I am a sculptor, and when the table is down, I am back to being a designer.
What art (or non-art related things) are you working on right now?
I am currently working on a show for London and Rome, which luckily has not been affected by COVID-19 (yet). I am working on an extension of my SweetTooth series, which is a dessert-themed series of works. But sculpting is my moonlight job; I work full-time as a UX designer, so my day is usually made up of design or research work, and many work calls. Juggling two professions leave me very little time for hobbies, although there is so much more I want to do!
If you had a time-turner, what would you do with your additional time?
It is clichéd to say, but I honestly will not want to turn my time back to anytime in my past. I am perfectly happy with where I am and who I am in the present. But if I could add more hours to my day, I would want to cook some amazing meals, and have a small beautiful garden with herbs, vegetables and chubby garden snails. Sometimes I really want to take life slow and be able to enjoy little things like that, but trying to balance my ‘serious hobby’ on top of a full-time design job makes it a little tricky!
What’s one thing (poem, artwork, song, movie etc) that’s been on your mind and why?
Hieronymus Bosch’s painting, The Garden of Earthly Delights. It is kind of morbid to have Bosch’s painting etched in my mind, but it is a strange time to be. Staying at home so much is making my mind very restless, and I have been having the craziest dreams of little zombie-like people. I think it is also because the pandemic has got me feeling a little more pensive and existential than usual.
If you’re willing to share… what are some of the stranger thoughts you’ve entertained in your mind lately?
This is not that strange a thought, but I often wonder how things will change after the pandemic. Will we move forward by building a world that is kinder and better for everyone, or will there be more walls and hostility? My mind has been on that topic a lot lately, but I think it is crucial in this time that we have empathy, openness, kindness, and resilience to get through this together.