The Body, Heart, And Soul Of An Artist.



Susanna Goho-Quek's first picture book, God is Hu? shows her love of painting, nature and telling stories to children. A grandmother herself, she loves working with children. Susanna has also established herself as one of the most respected names in the antiques and collectibles market. She was also an interior decorator, art exhibition planner and fashion designer. Recently, she was here for the Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival.

How do you get inspiration for your stories?

INSPIRATION as described in the dictionary...I checked and found half of the words applied to me. I would like to think that an idea took root and could not shake it off, or I did not want to shake it off and slowly but surely it enveloped my whole being. You open your eyes be it to the "Cockadoodle doo " from the  rooster in neighbouring school or the "kroo kroo" from the grey bird with pink feet and beak or sounds of children, laughing, shouting , running in the neighbouring school or Thunderstorms with thunder rolling  and lightning streaking across the skies. And a grandchild waking up in fright. With arms around her, you soothe her brow and tell her a story “God and his band of angels and saints are so busy answering the laden baskets of requests. Still have tigers in the wild They wipe their sweaty brows and mutter under their breath."ENOUGH guys" said God “Let’s have a break. (Even angels need it..Right?) Off they went to the bowling alley in the sky..."BAAM  BOOM BAAM"..a strike!!!!
"Don’t worry darling child”. Wiping her brow "Dont be afraid, its only God and his band having a little fun". My idea of a God that is funny and fun loving ,full of colours(look at the sunset, clouds purple blue and pink a wee bit cheeky  (different shaped animals and birds with pink feet )fruits of different shapes I could go on and on. I attended a lecture about God and religion. I went because my best friend asked and was driving me there and back and supper too. Oh yes I am a "Pampered Pooch" The priest talked about religion and he mentioned God and Creation. In my mind’s eye I saw a huge man wearing a white paint splattered smock . He was jumping around with a huge brush in his hand painting mountains, sea and sky. Trees and flowers took shape...a wee spray of perfume, butterflies and birds, animals big and small on the seas and fish, striped, polka dotted and spiky ones too. Ha GOD is an ARTIST that was when “GOD is HU" took shape. I pondered over it and the images came and words too felt God gave me a special gift I wrote and self published GOD is HU. 

Bookshops don’t take self published books You need a publisher and distributer (of course Ii did not know it then) so it languished under my opium bed Son bought me a computer and at about 9 at night I read an article by Mr Ramachandran  (Director of National Book Dev Council Singapore)We encourage writers etc .So I wrote to him  a very terse note I wrote a book and published and NOBODY wants to stock it..!!  10 o clock he did not reply 10 .30  still no reply  So i went to bed muttering  (don’t ask me what).Then I got up for the loo at around 11ish 12  and peeked at the computer.. Lo and behold He replied”: Dear Susanna , how wonderful, do bring your book to the National library  and meet me tomorrow “  I could not sleep when I arrived, he stood up and somehow I knew this was the man he helped me arrange a launch  and the rest is history. Of course, I also helped curate the illustrator’s gallery where they hold the AFCC yearly God is Hu Launched at ARTs house Singapore.

Take us through the process of illustrating a book; how does it go from an idea in your head to a finished work of art?

ln Oct 2015 a gentleman walked into my gallery bought a book and brought back to England Turns out he was Father McBride of Redemptorist publications based in Hampshire UK and he wrote and wanted to use my illustrations for cards. I signed my first agreement with them1 Dec 2015 and now this year they published a diary with my paintings too. Now i am doing the final few sketches to make into a colouring book So it’s a long long tumultuous journey NO?? In 2014 Fun at the Opera Launched in Delhi at Alchon Int School 2nd book FUN at the OPERA was inspired with my growing years After my father (SC GOHO died, we became rather poor(so, to preserve his name my mum did not want to fight for the inheritance) and my mum got together a Chinese Opera troupe and they toured  Singapore, Malaysia , Indonesia, Vietnam and even USA..
Her adopted son my brother was learning to be an Opera singer, and I wrote a little about our experiences  with the Cantonese Opera.
Mostly a true story of our growing years where my mum adopted a whole bunch of kids and how rambunctious we  were. We still are when the whole family gets together. Not an easy task as one in Switzerland and another London two in Singapore and children all over. Mostly all true story also  written in Chinese In 2015: The Teddy Bear Activity Book: It’s a colouring and storytelling book I sketched and sent to 28 of my friends and family and they penned a few words(not allowed more) as then kids can colour, add their animals or birds or people whatever and colour and write and tell their own stories .It’s a book where children, teachers , parents, grandparents and friends can enjoy together, storytelling or--singing a song or just snooze In 2016 three colouring books published by OYEZ  Books Teddy bear tales...teddy bears Underwater world... fish and under the sea Happy days..Kids running around I also have illustrated for a few writers. But I am crazy and picky. I must have my own way. But to do somebody’s work you have to get under his/her skin and have the same beating heart and they must TRUST U. Then I can give my ALL and MORE.


What do you love about writing and illustrating for children?

Well, I lose myself in the story, for that period, I am not myself but the character. When the child or grownup reads to themselves or to kids, they become young at heart and playful and smile and sing and dance, If that happens I would have succeeded.

Which is your favorite book the you illustrated?

Suppose, every book I write or illustrate,  I go in" body heart and soul" I can go without sleep or food because I get engrossed. I have written 3 above and illustrated WATER..2013.. collaboration with author Christopher Cheng Published by AFCC Publications NATIONAL BOOK DEV COUNCIL in celebration of International Year of Water Cooperation A SINGLE TEAR 2010, Collaboration with Prof KK Seet The ICEBALL MAN and other poems by Margaret Leong IMPART arose from a Christmas party (refer Art with Lots of Heart star hill) Because I hold classes teaching ART at National Geographic store.
The team at YTL and National Geographic asked me if I wanted to help organise a Xmas party on a budget of 2000 Ringgit WOW I thought, how generous. Asked a few friends and they gave me numbers to call. First orphanage said sorry we are booked for a few parties already second said, sorry we have an outing Third said, sorry the kids go home for Xmas, single parents Ah well I thought no party then. But saw a friend who organises a school for  Myannamar Refugees and I asked her YES YES YES she said but I had a budget for 1 party and she had a huge number of kids went to meeting to discuss party and found that Santa Claus would have  cost 1000 so we eliminated Santa bought 4 Santa hats for 10 dollars and we had two parties for the kids Presents donated by Mak Samad (a gorgeous big hearted lady who encapsulate us in her heart the cafĂ© cooked food friends donated more food we had Van Kleef  and Arpels balloons (left over and donated by manageress) But, the kids were happy but so what? What more can I do for them?

So my friend Mink picked 4 kids and another friend Dr Hartini picked another 4 from the street children organization and I taught them to play and in the process become art teachers, using my very simple method and they go back to their centres and teach the other kids. My friend Phik Yin who owns Pelikan offered to sponsor the materials. So very kind and forever grateful to her Art with Lots of Heart star hill. Children are innocent creatures they are curious and usually ever willing to absorb and play along with an idea. I can’t say I have a favorite book that I illustrated (the books will cry..You mean that one is youur favorite?) They will gang up against me no? God is Hu,my first born Fun at the Opera 2nd born Teddy tales third born. Like a child in the womb you talk to the child, sing to the child, scold it a little when it kicks, discuss with the child pray with the child, joke with the child, laugh with the child, cry with the child dream with the child. The book is your child and after it is born and distributed to the world that is when you share it and set it free "Now you belong to someone else, make them happy."

Are there any upcoming projects that you would like to mention?

Tentatively,TIGER I own a collection of woven Tiger Rugs (not the real skin)Held this exhibition at Muzium Negara (The official  Museum of Malaysia in year 2000 Plan to launch it again  in 2017. It’s a huge project as there are 13countries that still have tigers in the wild and there are only 3000+ tigers left roaming in the wild. We will talk about their habitats, Symbolism, folk tales Legends, Horoscope, characteristics etc Curators whom I will pick from the various homes will be trained by me(CSR).GOD IS HU the journey of this book from rough sketches to  hand painted copies with a box a book for the visually impaired..Tactile and Braille printed copy Cards..,Redemptorist publications Diary............." colouring book yet to be published Art exhibition  :my paintings  perhaps with another artist from London  to raise money for charity. But with wired installations of the human body, will show a drawing. A few others in the wings.

What advice do you have on writing and illustrating?

 None really. I who do not listen to anybody, am in no position to give advice. Who knows you better than yourself? It’s a bloody tough road out there If you work hard and pray someone likes what you write, pray for luck, pray for patience, pray for whatever. After all how many JK Rowling’s can there be? As long as you are happy I guess, do whatever you like!!!!!!

3 comments:

  1. Great Article… I love to read your articles because your writing style is too good, its is very very helpful for all of us and I never get bored while reading your article because, they are becomes a more and more interesting from the starting lines until the end.

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    1. @Abiya Carol...thanks a lot!!! follow us on facebook-https://www.facebook.com/kolkataKonnector/

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    2. a year late and i see ur comment so sorry
      give me a brush and i paint up a storm but computer took me a year to see ur response ..but with heart felt thanks i reply Thanku Thanku

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