Colleen Madamombe

Colleen Madamombe

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 of 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 continue portraying the feminine experience through old age. Madamombe was 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 depicted in her forms these aspects of womanhood with a 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 closely 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.



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