Monday, 27 October 2014

Story Hat

Trying on a heavy Chinese Opera Hat may not be that comfortable, but two visits in one weekend to see Susanna Goho Quek has got to be one of the best weekend treats I've had.  

Her antique shop in Lot 10, in the Golden Triangle area of Kuala Lumpur, is a real haven, cushioned from the big city by stunning antique furniture from China, and her own vibrant paintings. 

I could have spent all day listening to tales of her family who performed Chinese Opera. Or of her trips to China to buy all manner of antiques, such as tiger rugs, beds, window shutters and cabinets. Or of her collection of embroidered slippers for bound feet, a passion that dates back to seeing her own Grandmother's slippers. 

But Susanna is much more than an antique dealer. She is an artist and children's writer and illustrator. Her third picture book, 'Fun at the Opera', was published earlier this year. The story tells of the children's growing excitement as their older brother prepares for his new Opera show. First they help by scrubbing the car clean for the big occasion; then once they arrive at the Opera Theatre, they can't contain themselves, and sneak off backstage to try on the costumes and make-up. Finally back in their seats, they watch Ah Kor make his grand, dramatic entrance to the clamour of drums and cymbals. Back home, tired and happy, Por Por (Granny) sings them a soft lullaby. 

The text is printed in English and Mandarin, and translations are available in Malay and French, while I'm currently making a Spanish version. 

To quote David Seow, writer and children's picture book author:
"Fun at the Opera is like a song in itself. The delicious illustrations enhance the perfect prose of this magical story. Goho-Quek brings the enchanted world of Chinese Opera alive and leaves you wanting more."

Along with writing and illustrating picture books and a collection of poetry for children, Susanna gives art classes, and has run her impART courses, training teenage refugees in Kuala Lumpur to become art teachers, thus giving them an invaluable skill. 

Susanna is constantly innovating - using vibrant acrylics and appliqué, and even making jewellery. I was thrilled to find she had some arm bands and necklaces for sale, using beaded cloth from a baby-carrier and her own choice of beads sewn on top. 

Her shop is House of Suzie Wong
HOUSE OF SUZIE WONG  P9, Fourth Floor, Lot 10 Shopping Centre, 50 Jalan Sultan Ismail, 50250 Kuala Lumpur. Tel : 03 - 2141 0482

Below are some fabulous, zinging examples of Susanna's work