Nelson Mandela’s Art – Window & Lighthouse

This vibrant piece by Nelson Mandela acts as a reimagining of his own prison cell window whilst unlawfully imprisoned on Robben Island. Although Table Mountain is not visible from the depicted window in real life, Mandela has chosen to incorporate it into his sketch to signify the freedom and beauty that he associated with the mountainous landmark. An emphasis on the window itself is made through his careful choice of colours. He uses a warm palate for the bars and frame that juxtapose against the cool blue of Table Mountain, creating an exaggeration in the separation between the viewers’ position behind the bars and Mandela’s pictorial depiction of freedom.


Nelson Mandela, The Lighthouse, drawings from the Belgravia Gallery

‘The Lighthouse’ is a direct translation onto the page of the lighthouse which resides on Robben Island. With a long history of shipwrecks, the lighthouse was a pivotal warning beacon to ward off passing ships from the treacherous shores of the island. For Nelson Mandela, the lighthouse resembled a contradiction of acting as both a beacon of hope and of oppression. The solitary nature of the building is emphasised by Mandela’s artistic choice to highlight the expanse of the sky behind the lighthouse with lilac pastel, silhouetting the building simply and quietly.


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