© (Rhino) - Mapungubwe Revisited by Noel Ashton (Oct 2012)

Mapungubwe Revisited
A rhino conservation initiative by Noel and Belinda Ashton in partnership with WWF-SA
800 years ago, at the Late Iron Age archaeological site of Mapungubwe 
a member of the royal family was laid to rest, and within the grave was placed a little rhino, 15 centimetres long and made of pure gold.

800 years later, wildlife artist Noel Ashton revisits the Mapungubwe gold rhino and explores its significance in context of the modern world. During the silent process of sculpting Mapungubwe Revisited, he reflects on the invisible thread that binds us to the earth, and realises that this little gold rhino is much more than a priceless cultural artifact, it also embodies a deeper connection with and reverence for this magnificent animal of Africa.

“This compelling artwork speaks through time, and as an artist I see its significance not only as a symbol of the rich cultural legacy of Africa, but, as it was not a fragment of horn or body part but a complete rhino, it thereby embodies a deeper connection with, and reverence for this magnificent animal of Africa. This gold rhino links these people to the land through a sacred thread of belonging.

It speaks to me, and offers a signpost to something that we might have forgotten but fortunately not lost; for it can remind us that the natural world around us is much more than a commodity, a space or a view, it is an intrinsic part of who we are and where we have come from, and each rhino killed or tract of land destroyed is another part of ourselves lost. This little gold rhino makes visible the deep connection we have with the natural world, a connection which sustains our souls, and reminds us to tread more lightly upon the earth.”   Noel Ashton, 2012

Mapungubwe Revisited is a bronze sculpture of a rhino that Noel created as an artwork that could be sold to raise funds for WWF-South Africa's rhino conservation work. The initiative consists of three sculpture editions including a pure gold, a gold-leaf and a bronze rhino.

Mapungubwe Revisited was officially launched at the Mapungubwe Museum, University of Pretoria on 19th September 2012.