Jan Salter, 82

The artist and animal welfare crusader Jan Salter made famous for her book of portraits, Faces of Nepal, and who had made Kathmandu her home, passed away on Sunday  in Lyme Regis in UK at age 82.

She settled in Nepal in the mid-1970s 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.

Salter used to say: “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.”

Janette (Jan) Sonia Salter was born in 1936 in Southampton and as a young woman she travelled 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 in her travels was a chance encounter with the renowned Indonesian painter, Affandi with whom she painted in Bali.

Later, she began to experiment with oil paintings, which allowed her to ‘explore and express a versatility of style’. Salter’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 in the book Faces of Nepal that she co-authored with her long-time friend, the demographer Harka Gurung.

Salter has always had a great kindness and compassion for the people around her, and exercised her greatest care and empathy to capture another facet of life in Nepal:  the soulful depiction of more than 50 trafficked girls who were rescued by Maiti Nepal and form 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 (KAT) Centre which stabilised the street dog population , eliminated canine poisoning by the city, and greatly reduced rabies in dogs and humans in Kathmandu. All this helped transform the population’s fearful attitude towards and cruel treatment of street dogs.

Jan Salter was decorated in 1997 for Faces of Nepal with the Gorkha Dakshin Bahu medal by King Birendra. In 2010 she received the prestigious Extraordinary Commitment and Achievement Award from 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.”

According to the wishes of her family the web launch event for her Faces of Nepal will go ahead as planned on 15 May 3-5 PM at the Nepal Tourism Board.

Messages in her memory can be left at: https://www.jansalter.org 

Christine Stone, 77

Photo: UMN

Christine Stone, an educator who devoted her life to uplift the quality of schools in Nepal, died last month in a care home in Scotland. She was 77.

Stone first came to Nepal in 1982 to join United Missions Nepal’s schools in Makaisingh and Namjung of Gorkha district. She then moved to Pokhara where she made Gandaki Boarding School well known for its best-performing students. Realising that raising the quality of education in Nepal needed teachers to be better trained and motivated, she worked with the government on curriculum development and rewrote many text books that Nepali children study to this day.

She also wrote children’s books for Room To Read, among them the now famous characters Tommy Tempo, Rishi Rickshaw and Birke Bagh. She was awarded an OBE from the British government in recognition of her work with education in Nepal.

Stone was easily identifiable till recently crossing Bagmati Bridge on her bicycle with her pet Collie, Nirmaya, riding on a basket behind her. In the Kopundole neighbourhood where she lived, she was known as the “lady riding a bicycle with a dog”. She was interested in everything from astronomy to anthropology, but never owned a television or a smart phone, keeping up to date with the news on BBC World Service.

Stone grew up in Hong Kong before World War II. As the Japanese advanced she and her mother were shipped off to Australia. He father was captured by the Japanese in Singapore and pressed into the POW gangs that built the bridge over the River Kwai, but survived. After school, Stone’s spirit of adventure took her to Ethiopia and a tiny volcanic island in the South Atlantic to volunteer as a teacher.

She returned to Fort Williams  in Scotland in 2015 with Nirmaya. 

A memorial service for Stone will be held at the UMN office on 6 May.

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