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George Bizos

"Throughout my imprisonment, George unwaveringly shared our confidence that freedom for all and the dawning of democracy in our contry was inevitable." - Nelson Mandela, in the foreword for George Bizos's autobiography, Odyssey to Freedom

Adrian Steirn’s portrait of George Bizos, shot on location at Bizos’s office at the Legal Resources Centre in Johannesburg, features the great jurist holding up a card with the words ‘If Needs Be’ written on it. The portrait is a tribute to the day that Bizos visited Mandela in his holding cell at the Rivonia Trial, and amended his closing statement, which originally stated unequivocally that Mandela was prepared to die for the struggle. Bizos suggested a small insert: ‘if needs be’. The gesture, which was scribbled on to the typed speech in pen, is held responsible for the Rivonia trialists avoiding the death penalty.

“The intention of the creative process was to show George Bizos as the dignified man that he is, and the simplicity of those three words that changed South Africa in a beautiful portrait was something that I think painted a powerful picture,” says Steirn.