Colleen Madamombe

1964 – 2009

Education: Madamombe received her secondary education at school in Kutama, between 1979 and 1984. She obtained a Diploma in Fine Arts at the BAT Workshop School of the National Gallery of Zimbabwe from 1985–1986


Born in 1964, Colleen was one of only a few female sculptors in Zimbabwe and certainly the best known. Her work added a new dimension to the complexity of Zimbabwean stone sculpture through her commitment to a theme. Madamombe used her technical and artistic skills to highlight the special qualities of Shona woman, as well as to communicate the inequalities that affect their lives and status. She boldly tackled the issues within society and purely by the nature of her craft and the use of the heavy “Spring Stone” denoted a sea change in the possibilities for women in Southern Africa.

Most apparent in her work are the themes of womanhood - from young girls, through pregnancy and motherhood to the authority of the tribal Matriarch. These themes provide continuing inspiration and she looks forward to portraying feminine experience through to old age. She is interested, not just in the emotional, spiritual side to a woman's life, but is also fascinated by the basic physical appearance and movement peculiar to her sex. This aspect of womanhood she depicts with clarity and conviction, revealing pride, authority, energy, endeavour, sadness, tenderness, and often humour. Although a quiet and very private person, she has strong feelings about the changing role of women in Zimbabwean society. Through determination and aptitude Colleen won world acclaim.

Colleen 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 emphasise this movement - the texture follows the rhythms of the body. This contrasts with the more finished areas of the face and hands.'

(Source: "Life in Stone, Zimbabwean Sculpture", Olivier Sultan, 1994)


The Botanical Gardens in Berlin

Shona Gallery, New York Brooklyn

Villa Mangiacane, Italy

The National Gallery of Zimbabwe

The Chapungu Colleection, Zimbabwe

The Friends Forever Foundation