Colleen worked predominantly in Springstone, but also used Opal stone. She used both rough and polished stone in her sculpture, often leaving parts of the surface of the stone in its raw oxidised form to provide colour for hair or clothes, while creating expressive faces, arms and hands in the fully polished black stone.
Skirts would sometimes be chiselled to a rough grey surface, while other clothing such as a blouse was stippled to a finer texture. The overall effect and subject-matter was instantly recognisable.
While some of her early work was inspired by observation of ants, bees, butterflies and caterpillars, Colleen became best known for her depiction of women and their Shona culture.
She illustrated many themes of womanhood: women at work, harvesting, carrying water or children and giving birth. Her short, stout female figures quickly became a symbol of womanhood in Zimbabwe and were adopted by the Zimbabwean International Film Festival as the trophy award for all winning women entrants.
She won the award “Best Female Artist of Zimbabwe” three times.
Many of Colleen’s works were exhibited and sold outside Zimbabwe. For example, they were included in travelling exhibitions of the work of Chapungu artists which were shown in Botanical Gardens in the UK and US.
She died on May 31, 2009 and is buried near her rural home in Zvimba.
Mhiripiri Gallery | 9001 Penn Avenue South | Bloomington, MN 55431