Colleen Madamombe

Triplets C-25, 2003
Sculpture, Black serpentine
9.50 x 13 x 8 in
SKU: 11617g
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"Triplets" is a stone sculpture carved from black serpentine. It represents Colleen Madamombe’s (1964-2009) preoccupation with the representation of women in her work. Madamombe was a Zimbabwean stone sculptor associated with the Shona artists, the cultural group for which the artistic movement is named. She was one of the few Shona women sculptors. At first, she polished her husband’s sculptures, then began making her own. She is one of the finest second-generation Shona sculptors and won Best Female Artist of Zimbabwe at least three times.


Madamombe is known for her portrayal of feminine experience from girlhood to old age including representations of motherhood, pregnancy, childbirth, and tribal matriarchy. Her works have been interpreted as a platform for feminist expression. Her interest lay not only in the emotional and spiritual side of women’s lives, but also in the advancement of women in general. Madamombe had strong feelings about the role of women in Zimbabwean society. She felt that women were losing their positions of traditional respect.  She saw difficulties for women entering the arts because of lack of self-confidence but viewed women’s work— making pots and other things for the home--as inherently artistic.


The artist was also known for formal innovations such as expressing movement. In Triplets, Madamombe’s figures, with their gesturing arms and hands, express the dynamism of motion in three dimensions.  The sculptor also chisels rough stone to depict different types of fabric, as in Triplets. The artist pays attention to the details of femininity. 


She said: “I am inspired by the activity of women and I work hard to show this in my sculpture. In recent pieces I have used natural areas of the stone with rough workings to emphasize this movement [in which] the texture follows the rhythms of the body. This contrasts with the more finished areas of the face and hands.”  


Madamombe’s female figures have become symbols of womanhood in Zimbabwe and were adopted by the Zimbabwean International Film Festival as the trophy likeness for award-winning women.