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"Not leave but remain" by Szu-Han Lin

Szu-Han Lin revisited all of her forty former homes and captured this nostalgic experience in her artwork "Not leave but remain".

"Not leave but remain" is an artwork made of charcoal prints, which conceptual artist-designer Szu-Han Lin made in all the places where she lived throughout her life. Without the intention of creating this artwork, the Taiwan-born artist took two years to revisit a total of thirty places in Taiwan and ten in the Netherlands that she once used to call her home. In chronological order, she first visited the places where she spent her early childhood and then moved further and further from there, until she arrived back at her current home. To capture her memories of the places, Szu-Han made thousands of charcoal impressions of walls, ceilings, and floors. As she was making the charcoal prints, she intentionally ignored the objects in the rooms, since they belonged to the new residents of her former homes and were not part of her personal memories.

Since Szu-Han was travelling on a tight budget and had limited space in her luggage, she was forced to crumple up her prints to stow them away. This process would later become the starting point for her artwork "Not leave but remain", which she assembled piece by piece. The higher up the pieces of paper are in the artwork, the earlier she made them in her journey. This is shown by the fact that the top charcoal prints are more crumpled than the ones at the bottom, because they had to be unfolded and crumpled more often as they travelled further. In the centre of the artwork, Szu-Han recorded all the coordinates of her former homes on a metal plaque, providing information about the exact locations where the charcoal drawings were made. Since her artwork is a composition of charcoal impressions of all the spaces she once lived in, Szu-Han explains to the viewers of her exhibition: "You are looking at a space, not an object".

"For Szu-Han Lin, the emotional experience of nostalgia draws from the past to shape the future.“ (Lin, 2022) To her, this artwork is a reflection on how and why people remember. "Not leave but remain" is her own, beautiful way of holding on to the past, by taking a part of it with her into the future, which is also the essence of our trend "Preserving the Past". It is a masterpiece of personal memories of an inspiring designer, who uses visual language to express the deep feeling of nostalgia that probably everyone has felt at least once in their lifetime.

You can find more about Szu-Han Lin and her artworks at and @szuuu.lin on Instagram.

Spotted and written by Julius Tami

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