A Sympathetic Ear


Springstone (Serpentine)

  • 40cm (h)
  • 31cm (w)
  • 18cm (d)


She leans in close to hear whispered confidences.

This piece examines the relationship between a young girl and her aunt (her mother’s sister) in Shona society in Zimbabwe. The aunt [tete in Shona] listens and helps her niece with sensitive issues (i.e. boy trouble!). The headdress and shawl she’s wearing represent traditional dress; so her clothing is visually reinforcing the idea that this piece is examining traditional cultural roles.

The use of contrasting textures and finishes, and the sympathetic use of the natural form of individual pieces of stone, are very typical of the Shona sculpture movement as a whole.

Springstone is the local name for a very hard variety of serpentine stone. This particular stone comes from Tutani’s own mine. The reddish-brown colour comes from surface oxidisation of the iron in the serpentine stone.