As one of the world's greatest 20th century icons I chose to paint Mandela. He met many, if not most of the world's leading personalities and I decided to partner him with women who played an important role at different times in his life, or who shared his ionic status.

The series begins with a young Mandela and his first wife, Winnie, both in tribal dress. It ends with Mandela in 2009, with his wife Graca. Of the six women in the conversations I met both Winnie Mandela and Helen Suzman. Winnie's grand-daughter Zoleka attended the Montessori primary shool adjacent to Woodmead at the same time as my daughters. My daughter Milly and Zoleka were friends and Milly had a sleep over in Soweto with Zoleka. Winnie was charming, very beautiful and immensely charismatic. Knowing her made me question, as I have always done, the media's "angel" portrayal of her and other iconic women like Diana.