The colours Mandela uses here show how he is able to look at the brutally confining stretches of barbed wire in a positive light as he reflects on what the experience meant to him.
Every Nelson Mandela work sold by Belgravia Gallery has a signature verification by the eminent South African signature expert, Cecil Greenfield.
The guard tower seen in this image marked the corner of the Robben Island prison compound. It was the point at which the dirt road from the stone quarry met the boundary patrol road. We worked the quarries for thirteen years as part of our “hard labour” sentence. It was hard work, but we did not mind, as it meant we could leave the prison compound and have the “freedom” to walk and talk together on the long road to the quarry. These were invigorating times.
We would feel the wind in our faces, see the birds flying in freedom and smell the eucalyptus blossoms. I remember seeing gemsbok and springboks grazing in the plains.
After a day of relative “freedom” the tower was a grim reminder as we returned to the prison each evening. Conversation between us would usually become less and less as we approached the tower.
The tower reminded us of exactly where we were and where we had expected to stay of the rest of our lives. How little we guessed at the great changes that would sweep our country in our lifetime…that in my lifetime I would exchange these prison walls for freedom, not just my freedom, but the freedom of all my country’s people, a freedom which has become a symbol for all.