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US artist seeks childhood nanny in city

PETER Max, a 74-year-old renowned artist in the United States, has come all the way from New York to Shanghai yesterday to search for a "nanny" who taught him to draw pictures when he took shelter as a refugee in the city about 65 years ago.

The "nanny" he remembered was a young Shanghai girl only about six years older than him, who was very good at painting, Max said during a press conference today at the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum.

"A nine-year-old girl was hired by my mother to be my babysitter when I was three years old. She was a tender girl, always smiling to me," said Max.

"She taught me how to paint almost every day, drawing the stars and the sun, from which I gained the skills," he said.

Max said he continued to draw pictures after he left Shanghai and eventually made a name for himself as an artist and US cultural icon.

"It's funny that in my memory she was still that little girl. But actually she should be over eighty, she could be married and have children or even grandchildren," said Max.

Max said he would do whatever his previous nanny requests to show his gratitude. "If she wants to move to the US, I'd love to take her there," he said.

But unfortunately Max couldn't remember her name and didn't hold any photos recording her appearance. He called her "Umba", which sounds like "Ama" as many Shanghai children would call their nannies or elders in the past.

With all the details he could still remember about the nanny, Max drew a picture of the girl, hoping that it could be a clue. But museum officials said the picture seemed to be too abstract for them to find the real person.


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