Looking Back, Looking Forwards


Springstone (Serpentine)

  • 42cm (h)
  • 20.5cm (w)
  • 16cm (d)


portrait photo of Tutani Mgabazi

Tutani Mgabazi


“She is looking back over her shoulder, missing the people she has left behind, even as she goes forward.”

She is leaving home for the first time to start a new life. A adventurous young woman on the cusp of adulthood, perhaps leaving the countryside to study or work in the city. Suddenly, a world of possibilities opens before her.

Tutani has cleverly used the natural texture and colours of the raw stone as the key to this charming sculpture. For instance, in the textured surface of the wrap over her hair; he picks the line of the material out freehand with a grinder, and his confidence shines through. It contrasts beautifully with the smooth elegance of her exquisitely sculpted face, where he has gone deeper into the stone revealing the internal change of colour.

The use of contrasting textures and finishes is very typical of the Shona sculpture movement as a whole.

Springstone is the local name for a very hard variety of serpentine stone. Weathering of the raw stone creates the reddish-brown colour. It comes from surface oxidisation of iron, one of the main elements in serpentine stone. Tutani may well have chosen this stone precisely because of the interesting colour it had developed.