[Illustrator’s Sketchpad] An ‘Artful’ Being: Susanna Goho Quek, the National Geographic, and The House of Suzie Wong

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Hello everyone. Myra here. The GatheringBooks team is very happy to welcome Auntie Susanna Goho-Quek as our Featured Artist for our Illustrator’s Sketchpad. Here is a brief Q and A about Auntie Su’s creative journeys and the many activities that she is involved in. This is our final Feature on Auntie Susanna. Check out Part One where Auntie Su talks about A Night at the Opera and Part Two where Auntie Su talks about God Is Hu and her Creative Journeys. This in keeping with our current bimonthly theme From Asia with Love: A Feast of Asian Literature.

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You are a dynamic artist involved with so many exciting things, Aunty Susanna. One of your latest projects is training refugee teenagers to become art instructors to preschool-age children – tell us how this came about and what are some of your success stories so far?

I was asked by YTL management to select a group of children from a children’s home to invite to a Christmas party at National Geographic, but I finally decided to invite the refugees. The budget was for 20 to 25 kids, but they had 80 kids. Finding it impossible to select a group out of the 80, we decided to go ahead with the number of children.  We decided to eliminate Santa Claus (cost too high). For 10 ringgit we bought four Santa hats and we had some good friends who contributed money for chocolates and presents. We organized four parties (20 kids per time).

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But after that I pondered.. yes, the kids were happy, but how many kids can I teach personally?  Why not instead teach teenage street children and refugees to become art teachers?  That way, we can reach out to more kids.  After talking to Ken, Dr Hartini and a few other friends Caroline, Puan Sri Samad, San Sooi  and others, I worked on a plan, and IMPART  was born. 

The results are beginning to show gradually, one of my students has left for Denmark and she has taught classes there, and another holds classes in KL as well. 

According to Auntie Su: "This is the program for teenage refugees and st children ..so they can become art teachers."

According to Auntie Su: “This is the program for teenage refugees and st children ..so they can become art teachers.”

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What I want to do is to make this bigger so I can reach out to more teenagers to be art teachers. I would like to inject them with a bit of passion, lots of fun and a skill that allows them to earn a living.

Tasputra Perkim teachers where they teach the disabled.

Tasputra Perkim teachers where they teach the disabled.

Do share with our readers about your art classes at the National Geographic in Kuala Lumpur.

I was also invited to teach Art at National Geographic and that became another playground for me, where I could connect with kids.  Just watching their trusting faces and wondrous eyes one becomes young at heart.  I have also made friends with many parents as I enjoy teaching parents and children together.

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I try to be innovative when I teach, so I let my mind run RIOT (which is a good excuse to daydream).

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I can be impulsive, sometimes I plan a lesson for a week, but when I wakeup I suddenly have another BRILLIANT idea. I go to class energized and work on that idea. Some of my best classes came about that way (see Auntie Su’s class with GatheringReaders held at the Jurong West Public Library in Singapore).

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Tell us more about The House of Suzie Wong in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia.

I run a gallery selling Chinese/ Tibetan furniture and antiquities. The serious part of me (yes there is a tiny bit of seriousness) does research, and I curate exhibitions.

Some of my exhibitions include the following: Tiger Rugs (Muzium Negara), Chinese Courtyard Houses (Muzium Negara/LowYat Plaza), Bound Foot Shoes (Muzium Negara/ South City – the museum also published my book on this subject), 

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Beads (Muzium Shah Alam), Saddle Rugs (StarHill), Envision Braille as Art (StarHill), Chinese Opera (Starhill – includes performances).

What other projects are you involved in?

I have also illustrated the following books written by other authors:

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What are some of your upcoming projects that we should look out for?

I am planning the launch of my two books on Chinese Opera together with an exhibition and performances. I am also in the process of creating “Why I Paint” – a coffee table book. I am working on my Art programme to document it (the team contacted me and we will be filming the first series soon). There is also another book “Chinese Cinderella” on the works. I also hope to house my collections in a learning / interactive Museum and to hold classes anywhere in the world (like a flying artist).

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Artwork by Susanna Goho Quek

Artwork by Susanna Goho Quek

Artwork by Susanna Goho Quek

How was all this possible?

Watching my children and grandchildren grow, laughing with them, playing with them , teaching them has been a giant learning curve and a supportive (ex) husband, who did not mind me not working …… Not forgetting the multi wonderful friends and the organisations that have supported my WILD ideas , believed and still believe in me, a wonderful understanding priest that pulls me by the collar when I stray. I would say, by the grace of God.

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Illustration Copyright: Susanna Goho Quek

Many thanks again Auntie Su for your artful gift and sharing with us your life’s journeys.

1 Trackback / Pingback

  1. [Nonfiction Monday Reading] Artwork, Shared Lives, and Touching the Skies: Judith Kerr’s “My Henry” and Tejubehan’s “Drawing from the City” and May/June Winner of AWB Reading Challenge |

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