GEORGE TOWN, Aug 15 — It is said that a photograph is a memory captured in time and Goh Kong Chuan did just that by capturing all the special moments in his immediate family for over three generations.
The factory worker was an amateur photographer who loved capturing all the moments in his family from weddings to festive seasons to even romantic dates!
He amassed a huge collection of pictures from the 1960s up to the 1980s.
Goh has since retired and is suffering from the onset of dementia. His nephew, Goh Hun Meng, decided to showcase the black and white family photos in an exhibition — A Family Memoir @ Khoo Kongsi — in conjunction with the George Town Festival (GTF).
“Sa Pek is a lively and jovial person who loves to dance and travel; photography was one of his passions and he was always the one taking family photos on any occasion,” Hun Meng said.
(Sa pek means third uncle in Hokkien.)
The family photos captured three generations of the Goh family from Hun Meng’s grandmother, Khoo Chye Huat, down to Hun Meng and his many cousins.
The family used to live in one of the houses within the Khoo Kongsi compound in George Town.
Khoo started living there in 1911 and continued living there even after she married Goh Thean Siew.
They had six sons and three daughters and over the years, as their children grow up, some moved out while others stayed.
Hun Meng’s family continued living in Khoo Kongsi until 2001 when Khoo Kongsi took back all of the houses to be restored for other uses.
“In all the years of living there, Sa Pek was a constant figure who would stop us and pose us during any gatherings for photographs,” he said.
There were engagement photos, group family photos during Chinese New Year and also photos outside Khoo Kongsi, such as visits to Penang Botanic Gardens and the Taiping Lake.
Many of the family pictures were taken outside the house in Khoo Kongsi and there was even a series of pictures of Thien Siew’s funeral.
“This exhibition is held as a tribute to Sa Pek and any proceeds collected from this exhibition will go towards him,” Hun Meng said.
Hun Meng said he used to look through stacks of black and white photographs that his Sa Pek stored in blue boxes in his house many years ago.
“When I was a child, we would visit Sa Pek and I would notice these blue boxes with the label “photographic paper Oriental” on it and inside, I would find stacks of family photographs,” he said.
He said those photographs were like watching a “family movie” featuring his grandmother, aunt and parents.
There was even one of his parents going on a date at the Penang Botanic Gardens.
He said most of the photographs Sa Pek took were distributed to the various family members over the years.
So, to get a large enough collection of photos for the exhibition, he had to collect these pictures from his relatives.
“It was not easy to sift through the huge collection of photographs and choose only 48 for this exhibition due to lack of space,” he said.
Hun Meng said he has arranged the photos in a chronological order and by events so that when viewed in that order, it tells the story of the Goh family starting from his grandmother’s portrait.
All of the photos displayed were taken in the 1960s and 1970s.
The exhibition is open daily until September 3.
A Family Memoir @ Khoo Kongsi
An exhibition of photographs by Goh Kong Chuan & others
35 @ Jetty,