During the lockdown, Ardmore sculptor Tebogho Ndlovou has continued working from his small room in the Midlands village of Lidgetton, some 10 kilometres from the Ardmore studio. His ability to create magnificent forms during these trying times is a testament to the enduring power of the human spirit.
Tebogho settled on two magnificent pangolin sculptures as his way of interpreting the theme of lockdown. The first is curled into a ball while the second sits on its tail – a classic pangolin pose that speaks to uncertainty. Will it open out completely, or wind back in on itself? Just like each of us, this pandemic pangolin is unsure if the danger has passed, and wary of what lies ahead.
Pangolins have the unfortunate distinction of being the most trafficked animals in Africa - in some cultures, their scales are believed to have medicinal properties. Evidence suggests that the coronavirus pandemic may have begun in the wildlife markets of the Chinese city of Wuhan, where pangolins and many other species were kept in appalling conditions.
The pangolin’s scales – a evolutionary gift of armour – have ironically proved to be its greatest weakness. Just like the pangolin, we have all had to withdraw in on ourselves to protect the ones we love. At the same time, the pandemic has led many of us to question what really matters to us.
With his fine brush and steady hand, Ardmore artist Wiseman Ndlovu has breathed life into the pangolin's expressions and subtly rendered the patterns on their scales. He has chosen to pick out a geometric tortoiseshell design on the base of the curled-up pangolin. It’s a reminder that both species seek safety and reassurance by withdrawing in on themselves when danger threatens.
Dimensions: H cm; L cm; W cm