Colleen Madamombe, born in 1964 in Harare, is the friend and professional colleague of another successful woman sculptor, Agnes Nyanhongo. She shows a similar drive and hard working determination in the development of her work and is establishing her own individual style and direction. Apart from a period spent at school in Kutama, between 1979 and 1984, she has always lived in Harare. Colleen worked at Chapungu for 3 years and her sculptures seem to have benefited from the opportunity to work away from the home and with the professional companionship of other sculptors including women artists such as Agnes.
Her favorite subject is themes of womanhood – from young girls, through pregnancy to the authority of the tribal Matriarch. She tackles experiences with which she is personally familiar; so much of her work has concentrated on mother and child relationships, pregnancy and birth. Colleen looks forward to portraying feminine experiences through to old age. She´s interested not just in the emotional, spiritual side to a woman´s life, but is also fascinated by the movement so particular to her sex. She feels the movement and stature of woman reveals more pride than that of the opposite sex, and gives great scope for sculptural depiction. Similarly, rather than simply being bound by her own feelings, she also tries to portray the experiences she witnesses of other women.
The subject of mother and child is an important one to Colleen, and feels it relevant that the close relationship between father and child is still too common in her society. Attitudes are slowly changing but many traditional beliefs hold true. Relationships between men and woman are sometimes portrayed in her work. She also gives importance to sometimes-insignificant subjects such as ants, bees, butterflies and caterpillars. Spending much time watching insects, particularly ants, Colleen admits a fascination with her apparent humility – a humility that she feels the human race has lost. Creatures such as the cat and the zebra provide interesting subject material, but this fascination with the smallest of living things seems to have endured; ´´the way ants move in lines particularly. I love to watch their movement´´. With all these subjects, she watches closely, but finally carves from a strong mental image and the memories she holds of the animal, insect or person.
There is little influence from other sculptors but Colleen admires works of Tapfuma Gutsa and Cosmos Muchenje. She talks of the difficulties faced by young women artists, although many areas are becoming slightly easier than they were. Attitudes of her male colleagues vary from respectful interest to being somewhat ignored, and at worst an apparent jealousy of the recent success of woman artists. ´´Many women are artists and just don´t realize it – making pots and other items for the home that are not for sale´´. Colleen works predominantly in Springstone, but also uses opaline. Colleen passed away in June 2009.