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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 May, 2003, 11:18 GMT 12:18 UK
Mandela's Hand of Africa on show

A Nelson Mandela handprint which contains an image resembling the African continent in the centre is on show as part of a London exhibition.

Hand of Africa
The shape of the African continent is visible

The former South African president's "Hand of Africa" piece was said to have been created by accident while working on a sketch inspired by his 27 year imprisonment on Robben Island.

Anna Hunter, owner of the Belgravia Gallery, where the paintings are displayed, said at the launch: "He got his hands dirty when he was producing 'The Lighthouse' and he wiped his hands on a piece of card."

"You can see the image of Africa in the palm of his hand."

Hand analyst Lori Read was quoted by The Times newspaper as saying it was very interesting in a symbolic way.

"It is almost as if the continent is imprinted on his soul."

The other image of Mr Mandela's on display is a handprint of his, surrounded by the smaller handprints of HIV-positive children.

Mr Mandela has received some teaching from a professional artist and has done a number of colourful impressions of his prison.

New career?

The gallery owner added that Mr Mandela told them that when he retires this summer he will take up his paintbrush as a full-time artist.

"I don't know whether he was joking or not."

Also on display at the gallery are watercolours from Prince Charles.

Signed copies of images by both artists are on sale to raise money for their respective trusts.

Proceeds from Mr Mandela's work benefit the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund, which helps HIV sufferers and orphaned and homeless youngsters in South Africa.

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