Kwan Shan Mei (关山美) Kwan Shan Mei (关山美)

Kwan Shan Mei (关山美)

An artist of many children books and textbooks in the 1970s and 1980s

(1922 – 2012, b. Jining, China)

Born Wong Fang Yan (王芳彥), Kwan studied for a year under the great master Chow Han Mei (曹涵美) in Shanghai before working as an illustrator in various Chinese newspapers and magazines in Hong Kong. In 1963, she came to Singapore to work as the Chief Figure Artist for Far Eastern Publisher.

She later joined the Educational Publications Bureau and became known her work illustration textbooks. One of her most well-known collection was the set of Primary Pilot Project readers published for the Ministry of Education in the early 1970s.

Kwan also illustrated children's books, most notably The Adventures of Mooty the Mouse and the “Moongate Collection of Folktales from The Orient” series. In 1976, she was the recipient of the Singapore Book Council’s inaugural Book Award in 1976 for children’s books.

Besides drawing for children, Kwan had an interest in depicting Chinese folklore which were published in various book collections. They were also turned into gigantic panels at lobby of the former Dynasty Hotel in 1980.

Kwan taught for many years at Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts before retiring in Vancouver, Canada, in 1999. She passed away peacefully on 8 May 2012.

Photograph courtesy of the Kwan Shan Mei estate