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written by Ellen Lee and S. Jamal Al-Idrus

In Chrysalis, a collaboration between Artemis Art and The Back Room, we present a new body of work (literally!) by Kimberley Boudville, an emerging Malaysian artist whose youth belies her intimacy with a range of difficult emotions. Since her first solo exhibition, titled My Journey, a collection of drawings and paintings at Artemis Art in 2020, Kimberley has embarked on a new chapter in her life. In 2021, she graduated with her Bachelor’s in Fine Art from the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Singapore. Chrysalis is the second solo exhibition of her career and the first since her return. The widening of horizons—the new experiences, the matured outlook—is palpable in her works, which have moved beyond drawings into the territory of mixed media and installation.

This collaborative effort takes place in The Back Room gallery at The Zhongshan Building, Kuala Lumpur. In the middle of the gallery space is the exhibition’s central focus, an installation of a crystallised resin-cast skeleton atop a mound of dirt, raised upon a pedestal, titled Memento Mori, Memento Memorias. Surrounding the walls are limited edition prints from the Psyche series, in which the artist has rearranged the skeleton’s bones to create new forms and imaginary bone creatures. By using a crystallising technique on the skeleton assemblage, she fixes it in place and time, turns it into an object of art. In so doing, she also immortalises her emotions and memories of a specific time.

Our memories are our personal touchstones, reconnecting us to important events and individuals that have contributed to shaping who and what we are. But seldom is a second thought given as to how, what, and why we remember. Or, if what we remember is a complete and unembellished representation of a given experience. Some might recollect only the highlights, others the full details. Some may even try to forget certain events, particularly those that were unpleasant or painful – however, these remain in our memory (albeit suppressed), whether we like it or not.

These are among some of the observations, questions, and thoughts present in Chrysalis. The works here are an elaboration of the works in My Journey, which documented the events and emotions surrounding the death of Kimberley’s father in 2020. But if My Journey explored the depths of her grief towards the passing of her father, then Chrysalis is a reckoning with the time that has passed since then, and how her memories have evolved along with it. While My Journey was akin to memento mori, a reminder and reflection upon death, Chrysalis is more like a memento memoria, a reflection upon the processes of memory itself.

While time cannot always heal all wounds, it does give space for us to rationalise and put experiences into perspective. Important people and events may be preserved in our memories, but the manner and scope of our recollection are bound to change as time goes by. And just as how we transition from one stage of life to another, so too do our memories transform with us.

Accompanying Memento Mori, Memento Morias and the Psyche series are The ABCs of Loss, a series of alphabets formed out of animal bones, and the Chrysalis series, a collection of delicate flowers formed out of butterfly wings and encased in bell jars for eternal preservation. Taken all together, they make up a more complete image of Kimberley’s creative maturation and the continuation of her journey of mourning and reconciliation.


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