Wednesday, 3 June 2009
RIP | Colleen Madamombe 1964 - 2009
Artist | Colleen Madamombe
Colleen Madamombe one of Zimbabwe's best known and much loved sculptors died earlier this week. 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 modern Zimbabwe. 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. Colleen was considered a creative portal and clearly opened up real opportunities for future generations of female stone sculptors.
It is only recently that women have even attempted to work with the hard and
heavy stone. Spring stone has a rich outer "blanket" of reddish brown oxidised rock and emerges from the quarry like natural sculptures and this is often a source of inspiration to the artists. There are a few mines where this stone is found, but Guruve, in the north, is the preferred site. A beautiful dark stone, it polishes to a brilliant shine because of its high density of carbon. Spring stone was Colleen's preferred material and stone of choice and as with most other stones that are mined for the purpose of sculpting, this stone was mined by hand on communal lands.
Waiting For A Bus by Colleen Madamombe (Spring Stone) 2008
Colleen celebrated the fuller African physique and her distinguishing style was a refreshing approach away from the more traditional mystical works produced by the first generation of Shona sculptors. Throughout Colleens works she tried to communicate the injustice that affected the lives of women and their status. Her subject matter was deeply rooted in the traditional role of Shona women and the works have an energy and movement to them with the contrast of rough and polished parts of the stone.
Colleen represented the voice of a new generation of Zimbabwean women.
“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.”
Her sculptures are in numerous Collections around the world. Her presence in the artistic community in Zimbabwe and worldwide will be greatly missed.
© Joe Pollitt, 2009