Mapungubwe Revisited is inspired by the 800-year old gold rhinoceros excavated in 1933 at the Late Iron Age archaeological site of Mapungubwe, where the Shashe and Limpopo Rivers meet and has been researched and curated by the University of Pretoria (UP) for nearly eight decades. In association with WWF-South Africa (WWF-SA), the Ashtons hope to share a deeper message that focuses on the core value of wildlife and our connection to their natural world. “The African rhino is an iconic species under threat and initiatives such as this help to raise awareness about their plight,” says WWF-SA CEO, Morne du Plessis.
He adds, “Rhinos have been an object of value in African culture, as illustrated by the Mapungubwe gold rhino. After being severely threatened in the earlier part of the 20th century, African conservationists have worked tirelessly over the past two decades to nurture faltering populations back to healthy and vibrantly growing populations. Currently, South Africa is home to 75% of the world’s rhinos.”
Mapungubwe Revisited is a contemporary sculpture valued at R15 000 and R35 000 each (for bronze and gold-leaf respectively). "The University of Pretoria is privileged to support this initiative as well as host the launch of Noel’s Mapungubwe Revisited,” says Sian Tiley-Nel , Chief Curator of the Department of UP Arts, Mapungubwe Collection. “As our contribution to the quest to save the South African rhino for many decades to come, we are committed to curating and conserving this unique gold rhino for a lifetime."
Of the inspiration behind his work, Noel Ashton explains, “Far too easily we as a species see nature and her gifts as mere resources, available for the plunder and taking, and in the case of wildlife such as rhino, to be killed with horrific brutality. This points to a crisis, not only for rhinos, but for us as well. By enabling these acts of cruelty and disregard, we make visible a fraying of the mortality, empathy, sanctity of life and wisdom which are surely the cornerstones to our civilization.”
Krishna Patel, Chairperson of HSBC Africa says, “As one of the largest financial organisations in the world that commits to the principles of sustainable development within community whilst caring for our environment, investing in rhino conservation is an obvious fit for us. Funding an initiative as important as Mapungubwe Revisited is in line with our sustainability promise. We aim to meet our present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own.”