Evelyn Page 1899 – 1988
Evelyn Polson was born in Christchurch, the youngest of seven children. Eve, as she was known, showed early talent with painting and was enrolled at the young age of 15 at the Canterbury College School of Art, combining study of art with her general secondary education and a love of literature and music, gaining first-class painting awards.
Eve soon progressed to advanced study in still life and landscape painting, which would become the strongest influence in her work. She was awarded a Scholarship in 1918 and 1919 and in 1922 was elected a member of the Canterbury Society of Arts, establishing herself as a professional artist and exhibiting her work in all four main centres during the next 10 years.
In 1933 Eve, along with a number of other musical, literary and art friends which included Ngaio Marsh, formed ‘The Group’, wishing to become the focus of a modernist movement in New Zealand arts. Eve became a foundation member of the New Zealand Society of Artists.
Her work consisted of portraits, figures and landscape compositions, her canvases filling the plane with an assured mastery of tone and form, and later a richness of vibrant colour. In 1926 her exhibited works of the nude female form at the Auckland Society Arts exhibition created a controversy which raged in the Auckland newspapers for some weeks!
After nursing her mother through her final illness, from 1930 to 1936 she taught at the Canterbury College School of Art, before traveling to London in 1937, meeting up with her husband-to-be Frederick Page whom she married in 1938.
Eve’s work flourished through the ‘40’s and ‘50’s, and in 1958 came national recognition with her paintings included in an Auckland City Art Gallery touring exhibition. During the ‘60’s Eve worked on an outstanding series of female nudes, and in 1970 a major retrospective exhibition of her works was opened at the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts by Ngaio Marsh.
Evelyn Page died in 1988, recognized as “a painter with an extraordinary zest and independence of spirit, whose lifetime response to human character and very individual use of rich colour communicates her vivid reverence and joyful celebration of life”.