How Zetta Florence Housed Nelson Mandela’s Artwork

Zetta Florence is a name known by professionals in cultural institutions across the world. We’ve had the pleasure of working with national galleries, libraries and museums in the last three decades that we’ve been making archival materials. Yet, so much of the work that we do at Zetta Florence, the treasured stories and people we are connected to, live only in our memories. Our Founder, Georgina Knightley, shares one of those stories that we hold close to us in the following letter.

How Zetta Florence Housed Nelson Mandela's Artwork

Photo Courtesy of Stuart Shaw. All rights reserved.


South Africa’s Robben Island is a long way from Tasmania, Australia.

In 2003, we were contracted to produce six conservation-quality, handmade Solander boxes for Nelson Mandela. These special boxes were designed to house a series of signed lithographs, the artist’s handprint and a motivational script penned by Mandela himself. I imagine the journey of these boxes with their extraordinary contents into the homes of the super-elite such as Bono, Sting, Oprah Winfrey and Richard Branson, and I wonder if anyone ever considered how a part-Aboriginal Tasmanian’s name ended up as an embossed logo alongside Mandela’s signature!

This is our story.

A childhood spent dancing under the Great Western Tiers of northwest Tasmania was a solid start for any budding entrepreneur. Wild, towering, snow-capped and powerful; these mountains resemble my Scottish, Italian and Aboriginal ancestry. Enduring souls whose unwavering spirits survived many hardships and adversities. Whenever I visit the valleys beneath these beloved tiers, there is a silent force, echoing Mandela:

Even the most fantastic dreams can be achieved if we are prepared to endure life’s challenges.

Zetta Florence, my grandmother, lived at the same time as Mandela. Both endured extreme distress, both remained positive throughout. Both not only survived but lived on to encourage optimism, persistence, care and commitment. No matter what.

The link between a Taswegian, the Great Western Tiers and the World’s Greatest Stateman may seem incredulous. Yet, for us, these unlikely connections form the very essence of Zetta Florence.

We are kind.

We are strong.

We are creative.

We are Australian.

We are timeless and distinctive.

We care deeply about our community and environment.

We design, produce and curate quality stationery that honours, displays and protects our heritage. In turn, our customers are makers, creators and collectors – just like us.

Georgina Knightley