Jan Salter - 1936-2018
Artist and animal welfare crusader
Janette (Jan) Sonia Salter was born in 1936 in Southampton, England. As a young woman she traveled to Africa, Australia, and East Asia, but none fascinated her as much as the people of Nepal. Among the many interesting and significant experiences she had was a chance encounter with the renowned Indonesian painter, Affandi; she painted with him in Bali. In the mid-1970s, she settled in Nepal where she walked the length and breadth of the country, drawing pencil sketches of the faces of the extraordinary people she met along the way. Jan’s art is a time capsule of the age-old traditional costumes and jewellery of a Nepal that is quickly disappearing.
Jan says, “The people I have captured . . . have much to offer in terms of their knowledge and understanding of the natural world and in the uniqueness and richness of their own cultures.”
Later, Jan began to experiment with oil painting, which allowed her to ‘explore and express a versatility of style’. Jan’s life work consists of over 300 pencil drawings and oil paintings, the greater part of which record the varied ethnic groups of Nepal. Many of these were collected together in the book “Faces of Nepal” that she co-authored with her long-time friend, the demographer Dr. Harka Gurung.
Jan has always had a great kindness and compassion for the people around her; she exercised her greatest care and empathy to capture another facet of life in Nepal. Her soulful depiction of more than 50 trafficked girls who were rescued by Maiti Nepal forms the collection of paintings called ‘All Our Daughters’.
In more recent years, Jan’s work turned to her other passion, the humane treatment of street dogs. In 2004, she founded the Kathmandu Animal Treatment Centre which has produced a visible transformation in the city. She has been the amazing driving force behind the work that has helped to stabilize the street dog population, eliminate poisoning by the city as a method of street dog population control, greatly reduce rabies in dogs and humans in Kathmandu, and transform the population’s fearful attitude towards and cruel treatment of street dogs.
Jan Salter was decorated in 1997 for her artistic rendering of the people of Nepal with the "Gorkha Dakshin Bahu" medal by the late King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev. In 2010 she received the prestigious "Extraordinary Commitment and Achievement Award" from the Humane Society International for her ground-breaking work in animal welfare. She was cited on the New Year’s Honours List 2013, and received an MBE from Queen Elizabeth II for animal welfare in Nepal.
Jan’s own reflections best summarise her art, “I would be proud if my work contributed in any way to a greater recognition and respect for the rich and varied cultures my ‘faces’ represent. It is a small and humble offering in comparison to what I have myself received from Nepal and its peoples.”
Jan Salter passed away peacefully in her sleep at home in Lyme Regis, UK on April 29, 2018. According to her wishes, she was buried in a woven wooden casket in a meadow near Lyme Regis, UK.
Photo: Narendra Shrestha
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