ARCHBISHOP DESMOND TUTU
Oil on canvas, 24 x 20 inches, 2002
Archbishop Tutu studying his likeness
Official unveiling of the portrait
Whilst Archbishop Tutu agreed in principle to the portrait, he was initially reluctant to actually sit for it, although he said I was welcome to observe him in his office in Milnerton, Cape Town, sketching him while he was at work. Gradually he became accustomed to my presence and began to engage me in conversation.
After this unpromising start I finally persuaded him to leave his paperwork and sit in front of me, so that I could paint some proper studies.
After a week of work, and some retouching back in the studio in England, this portrait emerged. I was then invited back to Cape Town and the portrait was unveiled by the Archbishop, amidst considerable interest from the press.
My meetings with the Archbishop were an astonishing experience. I was fortunate to sit in on a number of interviews with him, which gave me not just a glimpse of the public icon, but a chance to understand some of the character of this great man.
Some two years before this, on a British Airways flight to Beijing, I had been asked by a purser if I could help to raise money for Nyumbani, an orphanage for HIV positive and AIDS children in Nairobi, and The Love of Christ Ministries, a Johannesburg-based charity for newborn and abandoned babies.
Proceeds from the sale of the picture will be distributed between these two charities.