Malala Yousafzai, the girls’ education activist, has had a portrait publically displayed at the National Portrait Gallery. The work which was commissioned by the Gallery; was completed by Iranian-born artist and filmmaker, Shirin Neshat. This is the first of three commissions supported by Outset over the last few years.
Acquired for the National Portrait Gallery Collection, the work completes a pair of portraits of Yousafzai by Neshat. Working from photographs, Neshat has hand inscribed a poem in calligraphy, MALALA II (Malala Yousafzai), by the Pushto poet Rahman Shah Sayel. The poem was written in 2011 after Malala had become a well-known education. It draws comparisons between the legendary Malala of Maiwand and praises Malala Yousafzai.
The second portrait will be unveiled in 2020 in Birmingham Museums as part of a new initiative called Coming Home. Fifty portraits from the National Portrait Gallery’s collection will travel to places across the UK which they have close associations with.
In 2014 Malala became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize and won the International Children’s Peace Prize in 2013. She is cofounder of the Malala Fund which champions every girls’ right to 12 years of free, safe, quality education. Malala first came to prominence in 2009 after writing about her life during the Taliban occupation of Swat Valley, highlighting the ban on girls’ education. In October 2012, she was shot in the head during a Taliban gunman attack on her school bus. To remain near to her family, she chose her place of recovery to be Birmingham. Now an Oxford University student, Malala is studying Philosophy, Politics and Economics.
“I am honoured to have my portrait included in the National Portrait Gallery alongside some of Britain’s most influential writers, artists and leaders” said Malala. “I hope it will remind visitors that girls everywhere are fighting for change in their communities and countries – their stories must also be heard.”