An elephant’s head in profile, where the hole represents the eyes; from the narrow side, it looks like an elephant’s trunk; viewed from the wider side, it looks like the ears.
A common device in Shona sculpture is to use negative space (i.e. taking out the stone to make a hole) to denote the passage into the spirit world. Hence, this elephant’s head also invokes the essential nature of the elephant, its true inner spirit of wisdom, intelligence and compassion.
Although Royal is best known for his wonderful birds, he is capable of so much more, and this Hepworth-esque abstract sculpture is a welcome diversion from the norm.
Lepidolite is a mineral of the mica group, containing lithium. This deep purple variety of lepidolite stone came from Mutoko, one of two sources in Zimbabwe – a paler lilac variety is found in Bikita. The white crystals are quartz mixed into the lepidolite. It is exceptionally hard and difficult to sculpt.