2018 Edition - Tschabalala Self

In this inaugural year of the Art of Empowerment programme, UN Women UK Special Advisor for Arts and Philanthropy Maria Baibakova commissioned female artist Tschabalala Self to work with us, translating her well-known work ‘Princess’ into a limited edition run.

Tschabalala Self is known for her striking depictions of female bodies that address her own experiences and cultural attitudes toward race and gender. Self’s work for the programme was made out of stitched fabric using a quilting technique, in reference to the timeless craft of women across cultures, and as a symbol of the work of women through the ages.

In the creation of Princess for this project, Self combined overlapping areas of both oil and flashe-painted fabrics by stitching them directly into the surface of the canvas, emphasising the bold shapes of a multifaceted character who is the focus of the work. She constructs exaggerated depictions of female bodies using a combination of sewn, printed, and painted materials, traversing different artistic and craft traditions.

In the original artwork, called Princess and created in 2017, Tschabalala Self explores the implicit politicisation and sexualisation of black bodies through a self-reflexive lens. In Princess, Self deftly negotiates a variety of materials, utilising a lively range of textures and patterns to create her central figure.

All proceeds supported our programmes around the world helping women access trade skills, including women artisans working with textile and fabrics.


Tschabalala Self
Princess, 2018
116 x 100 cm (45.7 x 39.4 Iin)
Hand sewn cotton and tulle
Edition of 30 plus 2 APs
Signed by artist in verso



Tschabalala Self identifies primarily as a painter while also working across various media.

She is renowned for her singular style from the syncretic use of both painting and printmaking to explore ideas about the black female body.

Tschabalala Self says “I am honoured to be selected as the first artist for this important project.  In ‘Princess’, I am depicting a demure female figure with an Afro-crown.   The edition is made of stitched fabric – and various materials that were used in my original work – with the additional aspect of the quilting technique, which is a craft that unites women across cultures and ages.  My goal is to support and empower women through my work and practice, and the mission of UN Women UK resonates with me in particular.”