Saturday Afternoon I

Jane Evans 
New Zealand, 1946–2012
Saturday Afternoon I 1976
oil and acrylic on board, 603 x 756 mm
Collection of The Suter Art Gallery Te Aratoi o Whakatū: presented to The Suter by the estate of Amelia F. Roe in 2004. ACC: 990

Jane Evans has captured a quintessential Nelson scene: a Saturday afternoon yacht race. She had been visiting friends who had a harbour view and was said to be ‘taken with the festive play of Saturday afternoon sails on the water, clouds and sky’ – impressions that resulted in a series of paintings of Nelson Haven.

In mainly strong blue tones, the painting shows yachts sailing out through The Cut, the safety chase boats not far behind. The scudding clouds and energetic brushwork suggest a lively breeze.

Haulashore Island is on the left and Boulder Bank to the right, backdropped by Tasman Bay and the Mt Arthur Range in the distance.  

ArtWalk features three works by Jane Evans – Ladies Day, Saturday Afternoon I, and Summer Siesta.

Jane Evans in her studio in 1985. The Nelson Provincial Museum, Nelson Mail Collection: 970A

Jane Evans

Born in Nelson in 1946, Jane Evans was educated at Nelson College for Girls. She enrolled at Ilam School of Fine Arts in 1965, and the following year she travelled to London to study at Waltham Forest Art College. However, after the first year she left to pursue a programme of self-education.

This freedom of spirit resonates throughout a lifetime’s creation of vibrant, free-flowing works. Jane’s innate understanding and use of colour saw her flower and figurative narratives hit a high spot in the international art market of the early to mid 1980s.

After an initial diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis in 1965, Evans was diagnosed with an ongoing condition that affected her for the rest of her life. Often literally painting through her pain, while adapting her painting methods and media accordingly.

‘Suddenly there was life in front of me and I had to grab it with both hands. It was a compulsive thing for me to express the joys of life.’

Evans returned home to Nelson in 1971. She continued to travel on painting expeditions, including to Sydney and Melbourne in 1972, and bank to England in 1973, where she commenced a series of works showing people visiting and viewing paintings in the London galleries and the lively exchanges at markets such as Portobello Road.

Returning home, Evans purchased and renovated a cottage in Tasman Street, and established the garden that became a source of inspiration for her signature flower paintings.

‘The garden was an extension of my life. When I turned to watercolours, I found myself in touch with this wonderful, loose spontaneous medium that was really exciting.’

Passionate about the expressionist works of Matisse, Bonnard and Chagall, Jane said: ‘I am drawn to the painters who express the joy in living.’

In 1997, Jane was appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to painting. In the same year, she worked closely with John Coley on her biography, ‘Jane Evans’. She died at her home in Nelson in 2012.

The Suter Art Gallery holds 11 of her works, the largest number by the artist in any public collection. The Gallery’s affection for Jane is reflected in the naming of the Jane Evans Foyer. The Suter’s collection of Jane’s works can be viewed here.

There’s a good overview of Jane’s life in The Prow, and a beautifully written obituary by Tracy Neal in The Nelson Mail.

Installation Details

15 Bridge Street (on the old Nelson Evening Mail Printing Press building between Bridge St & Wakatu Lane)


Many thanks to the property owner and tenant for being part of ArtWalk.

Nelson City Centre ArtWalk is a joint project by Make/Shift Spaces and The Suter Art Gallery Te Aratoi o Whakatū.