South Africa House in London's Trafalgar Square hosted the international launch of the "We Love Mandela" art exhibit on Wednesday (October 2) evening. The exhibition of works inspired by anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela is set to travel to other world capitals in a precursor to South Africa's celebration of 20 years of democracy.

Mandela's failing health postponed the international launch several times this year, but it has now gone ahead on the express wishes of the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

"Often people, they know the name Mandela, they have seen the image of Mandela, but who really is Mandela? What I tried to do in this show is to give you different facets of his of his life, to trace a kind of story of the man," said curator Natalie Knight.

London was chosen because of the city's long-standing contribution to the fight against apartheid, which included numerous rallies in Trafalgar Square and activism from a number of key British political figures.

In 1996 Mandela appeared in front of large crowds from the balcony of South Africa House to rapturous cheers.

The exhibition showcases a wide variety of art including paintings, sculpture, photography, cartoons, beadwork, prints and gold medallions.

A reproduction of the acclaimed Mandela portrait by renowned British artist Richard Stone was also on display. The artist, who has painted royalty, said this was the most awe-inspiring commission he has ever undertaken.

"I described that process as being daunting because as a portrait painter, here I had the opportunity to paint the most famous man in the world. And everybody has their own ideas about what he looks like, what expression he should have and their own personal feelings are bought to any image. And here I am with my little sketch book and my small box of paints being given the task of representing not just his likeness but capturing something of his personality, and so it was a very big deal," he said.

Some of the artists featured could only find artistic fulfilment once Mandela was released, others actively used resistance art in the fight against apartheid.

Presented by Adam Justice