Colleen Madamombe was born in 1964 in Harare, Zimbabwe. Considered to be among the finest new talents from Zimbabwe, she has won the award of Best Female Artist of Zimbabwe for the past three consecutive years, and is quickly becoming an established figure of the Second Generation of Zimbabwean stone sculptors.
Madamombe's sculpture is evidence of her strong determination to express herself by creating a very individual style and choice of subject matter. The themes of womanhood, girlhood, pregnancy, motherhood, and the authority of the tribal Matriarch are visible in her artwork. These themes provide continuing inspiration and she looks forward to continue portraying the feminine experience through old age. Madamombe is interested in not only the emotional and spiritual side in a woman's life, but also the basic physical appearance and movement particular to females. She depicts in her forms these aspects of womanhood with a poetic clarity, revealing emotions such as pride, authority, energy, endeavor, sadness, tenderness and humor. Madamombe is a quiet and private person, however she has strong feelings concerning the changing role of women in Zimbabwean society. Opportunities are developing for women, however she feels they are losing their positions of traditional respect. In her view, it still remains 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 admits to a fascination with what she sees as the humility of insects, a trait she feels the human race has lost. Other creatures, such as the cat and the zebra have provided interesting subject material, however her fascination with the smallest of living things has endured, remarking, "[I like].. The way ants move in lines particularly. I love to watch their movement." She observes each of her subjects as closely as possible, and then carves from a strong mental image and the memories she holds of the animal, insect or person.
Madamombe predominantly works in hard black Serpentine and uses the outer blanket of the stone to create several different textures to contrast with the polished surfaces. Recent major works include The Birth, Dancing Woman, Growing Well and My Wedding Day.
Colleen was born in 1964 and holds a somewhat inspirational role within the stone sculpture movement as she is one of only a handful of women sculptors in Zimbabwe, and often considered the best. Her work adds a new dimension to the complexity of Zimbabwean stone sculpture through her commitment to a theme. She uses her technical and artistic skills to highlight the special qualities of Shona women, as well as to communicate the inequities that affect their lives and status. Her subject matter is deeply rooted in the traditional role of Shona women. Her powerful images, their energy and movement, the contrast of rough and polished parts of the stone, make Colleen Madamombe’s stone sculpture some of Zimbabwe’s most dynamic. She represents the voice of a new generation of Zimbabwean women. She declares, “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 – the texture follows the rhythms of the body. This contrasts with the more finished areas of the face and hands.”