'Grandmother' is an original black serpentine sculpture by the celebrated second-generation Shona artist Colleen Madamombe. The sculpture presents a character common to Madamombe's work, a woman with a round face and wearing a billowing dress. 'Grandmother' seems to lean to one side as she holds both her arms downward and looks to her right. As is so desired of her work, this sculpture is a play in texture: her face and hands are polished and smooth, which is juxtaposed with the rough-hewn surfaces of the clothing and hair.
17 x 11 x 8 inches
Signed along the base on the reverse
Acquired directly from the artist (C-13)
Excellent condition with no chips or signs of wear
Colleen Madamombe (1964–2009) was born in Harare, Zimbabwe. Considered to be among the finest new talents from Zimbabwe, she won the award of Best Female Artist of Zimbabwe three years in a row and became an established figure in the Second Generation of Zimbabwean stone sculptors.
Madamombe's sculpture is evidence of her strong determination, self-expression, and creativity. The themes of womanhood, girlhood, pregnancy, motherhood and the authority of the tribal Matriarch are visible in her artwork. These themes provided continuing inspiration and she looked forward to continuing to portray the feminine experience through old age. Madamombe was interested in not only the emotional and spiritual side of a woman's life but also the basic physical appearance and movement particular to females. She depicted in her forms these aspects of womanhood with poetic clarity, revealing emotions such as pride, authority, energy, endeavor, sadness, tenderness, and humor. Madamombe was a quiet and private person, however, she had strong feelings concerning the changing role of women in Zimbabwean society. Opportunities were and are developing for women; however, she felt they were losing their positions of traditional respect. In her view, it remained difficult for women to pursue a career in the arts, predominantly because of an inherent lack of self-confidence. However, another critical factor is that the idea of following one's own ideas and ambitions or pursuing a profession is foreign to many Zimbabwean women. Madamombe explained: "A lot of women are artists and just don't realize it – making pots and other things for the home, and not for sale."
Some of Madamombe's early works emphasized the importance of seemingly insignificant subjects such as ants, bees, butterflies, and caterpillars. She admitted to a fascination with what she saw as the humility of insects, a trait she felt the human race had lost. Other creatures, such as the cat and the zebra have provided interesting subject material, but her fascination with the smallest of living things endured, remarking: "[I like] the way ants move in lines particularly. I love to watch their movement." She observed each of her subjects as close as possible and then carved from a strong mental image and the memories she held of the animal, insect, or person.
Madamombe predominantly worked in hard black Serpentine and used the outer blanket of the stone to create several different textures to contrast with the polished surfaces.
She died on May 31, 2009, and is buried near her rural home in Zvimba.