Mohd Yusof Bin Ismail is Malaysian’s foremost naïve painter. He earned the nickname ‘Yusof Gajah’ through his fondness of paintings the pachyderms in various shapes, forms, and colors. Even when he is painting a landscape we might invariably finds an elephant peeking out from the vibrant flora and fauna.
Yusof and I went a long way. We first met when I was working at the Kuala Lumpur Memorial Library in the 80’s. I was in charge of the Circulation Department and organized activities for the Adult as well as for the children. Our friendship was forged when we organized a Children’s Puppet Show, and held it at Kuala Lumpur City Hall. Amidst misgivings in some quarters due to the “loose story board”, we still went ahead. The puppet show was loved and enjoyed by the children …. It was a resounding success!
Not many people know Yusof as the Philanthropist. Yusof is passionate about working with children – he is a well-known children’s author and illustrator, a born story-teller and puppeteer; so it was a natural progression that he is involved in charity for children.
Our initial foray into fundraising was when we held an art exhibition for paintings done by the St. John Primary School 2 students to raise fund for the school library. The Exhibition “Young Touch” was held at the Petronas Art Gallery with pomp and ceremony. The paintings were also auctioned at the Parents/Teachers Association’s Dinner and we were amazed and excited when one of the paintings fetched RM1,000.00!!!
Over the years Yusof had worked with Siemens, Silterra, Shell, Institute Jantung Negara to name a few on charity projects involving children and art.
Currently he is working with Rumah Solehah - giving art classes to the children and raising fund with Kopi-Kopi Story Telling Group for the organization. Recently the Kopi-Kopi Story Telling Group managed to collect more than RM10,000.00 and a portion will go to Rumah Solehah.
Yusof’s dream? …. To fill the walls of Malaysian Hospitals with children’s painting.
The formula is simple but brilliant … pediatric patients and employees’ children will paint pictures on canvasses. Corporate will sponsor to buy the paraphernalia or the paintings in order to fulfill their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). The money raised will go to the hospital especially to benefit the children.
Yusof's dream is slowly becoming a reality – visit National Heart Institute, Hospital Universiti Kebangsaan, Selayang Hospital and you will invariably see Yusof’s touch in the children’s paintings hanging on these walls!!!
By : Faizah Aziz - Wells