Last month, Lussorian was granted exclusive access to the vaults of the oldest operational pawnbrokers in London, Suttons & Robertsons. With roots that go back to 1770, these guys really know their way around the pawnbroking business and they have some real gems in their vaults.
Now, you may be aware that Nelson Mandela`s time in incarceration was not just a fruitful time for his political contemplation and formulation of pioneering racial ideas, but it was also a period when some of the most iconic South African pieces of art were born. Within the Suttons & Robertsons vaults you can find some of these timeless illustrations in limited edition print form. They powerfully, yet simply, depict the oppressive nature of imprisonment and reflect the apartheid as a whole.
This trio of images movingly captures the view Nelson Mandela had from his cell on Robben Island, following his incarceration in 1962.
The Guard Tower (centre, above), which, as an individual piece, really encapsulates the importance of these illustrations as collective. The image utilises a juxtaposition of colour and simple symbolism to evoke motifs of divide, separation and vulnerability. It is one of the most well-known depictions of the oppressive regime on Robben Island and forms a crucial part of historical observation for the era.
According to commentators of the art `Mandela’s vision of the tower conveys a palpable sense of menace, which is accentuated by the coils of barbed wire around the base of the guard tower with its sinister curves which are almost tangible as they stretch towards the viewer.`
A similar print sold at auction in 2010 for £4,800. However, this sale was not without controversy, as it this sale is believed to have been against Mandela`s wishes.
A truly fabulous piece of South African heritage, thank you Suttons and Robertsons for the access to the vault!
Please visit S & R for more information: http://www.suttonsandrobertsons.com/
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