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Artist Biography

Born and bred in Joburg Colleen Alborough was probably destined to make art about this notorious African city, yet she would only arrive at art-making after a few detours. Such as foray into the world of hospitality, where she learnt not only how to work under pressure but most importantly began to think about installation work. Eventually realising her artistic bent, she enrolled for a degree in fine art at the University of South Africa (Unisa) in the late nineties.

It was during her first year at this institution, when a sculptural Anthony Gormley inspired set of works broke that she first recognised the "beauty of happy accidents". This has become a key feature of her art to the present day, which has seen her gravitating towards modes such as stop-frame animation or other mediums that both demand and deny errors. In 2001 she moved to the Wits School of the Arts to complete her 3rd and 4th years and her masters (completed in 2010). Under the tutelage of world famous artists Penny Siopis and Karel Nel, she pushed her artistic practice further, eventually focusing on interactive immersive installations and stop frame animation that would not only root viewers in environments of her creation, but create journeys into the creative process itself with the set-building for animations becoming one of primary vocabularies.

Influenced by the film theorist Guiliana Bruno’s notion 'hapticity' which she explored in her masters thesis, Alborough set out to create works inspired by her own multisensory experience of Joburg by evoking the aural as well as visual and tactile textures of this city and how this shaped relationships to the city. In 2007 she presented her masters work The Night Journey, at The Premises, a cutting-edge artist-run gallery. It was an interactive installation exploring "the epic journeys we embark on when the night shuts out our visible reality and gives free rein to our hopes, fantasies, dreams, fears and nightmares."

A year later she toured the installation locally and abroad (at the Palazzo delle Papesse in Siena, Italy and at the Palinsesti Festival, in San Vito al Tagliamento, Italy). In observing Night Journey, Nathanial Stern, a renowned US-based digital artist identified the 'haptic thread' when he wrote: "My experience of the work is not one of 'looking' as a "continual translation into visual language of the kinaesthetic' it is one of 'perception' as a "total awareness of my posture in the intersensory world."

The installation medium is particular to Alborough's practice as not only does it present this sensory-driven immersive experience for viewers that lays bare the art making process and thought processes but it is fragile, difficult to transport and install and therefore denies 'mastery'. It is for this reason that her art has largely featured outside of commercial art institutions, though she now offers monoprints and filmic works to prospective patrons and has accepted commissions.

From 2003 to 2007 Alborough imparted her unique take on art to the students at Wits where she lectured while working towards her masters. Finding teaching a deeply satisfying pursuit that would eventually set her on the path for creative coaching - the process of coaching artists through the anxieties evoked by the creative process – she took up a teaching post at Unisa in 2007, where she lectured until 2015.

Moving her studio to the Maboneng precinct in Joburg's inner city in 2009, proved the catalyst for new work, delving into the psycho-geographic baggage tied to it. This culminated in the much lauded installation and filmic work Fear and Trembling and Balance, respectively, which showed at the Standard Bank Gallery - one of Joburg's most important art institutions. Balance would show in Oberhausen, Berlin and Cyprus in that year too. Fear and Trembling was bought for the Unisa Art Gallery collection. In the following year she was given the unique opportunity to create a permanent installation, 50 Stories, for the Maboneng-based hotel 12 Decades.

2015 has proved a pivotal year for her practice with a large solo exhibition Joburg: Place beyond Fear being staged at Galerie Seippel in Koln. It is the first time that her oeuvre will be on display with the addition of a new installation work dubbed Weighing of the Hearts.

Alborough is now a full-time artist using art’s transformative function in the realm of creative coaching.

Artist CV


Masters in Fine Arts (with distinction) (November 2010) - University of the Witwatersrand

BA Fine Art (with Distinction) (2002) - University of the Witwatersrand

Art Therapy Foundation Course

National Diploma in Catering Management (with distinction) (1995), Hotel School, Wits Technikon

Work Experience:

2000 – present: Multimedia Artist

2010 – present: Creativity Coach

2007 – 2014: Lecturer in Visual Arts and New Media, UNISA Visual Arts Department

2003 – 2007: External Lecturer in New Media Art Practice, Wits University

Solo Exhibitions:

October 2015 The Place Beyond Fear, Galerie Seippel, Köln, Germany

August 2010: Balance at The Downstairs Gallery, Standard Bank Gallery, Johannesburg

Aug – Oct 2007: Night Journey, Adler Museum, Wits Medical School, WITS University, Johannesburg

May – June 2007: Colleen Alborough @The Premises Gallery, Civic Theatre, Johannesburg

April 2007: Before the Time Outlet, Tshwane University of Technology (TUT), Pretoria

October 2005: Night Journey, YAP Project, KZNSA Gallery, Durban

Select Group Exhibitions:


October 2011: International Short Film Festival of Cyprus, Cyprus, Greece

May – June 2011: VIDEOart!, 7hours Gallery, Berlin, Germany

May 2011: Oberhausen International Film Festival, Oberhausen, Germany

October 2010: Zebra Film Festival, Berlin, Germany

December 2009 – January 2010: Riders on the Train, Axiom Gallery, Boston, USA

November 2009 – Febuary 2010: Art from Southern Africa, GTZ GmbH, Eschborn, Germany

September – November 2008: Palinsesti, San Vito al Tagliamento, Italy

Febuary – May 2008: .ZA giovane arte dal Sudafrica, Palazzo delle Papesse, Siena, Italy


July 2014: Salon, Upstairs@Bamboo, Johannesburg

June 2014: I Take It All Back, Nirox Foundation, Arts on Main, Johannesburg

July 2013: Verge, Fried Contemporary, Pretoria

March 2013: Digi Re-Engineering, UNISA Art Gallery, Pretoria

June 2012: Stuff/Staff, UNISA Art Gallery, Pretoria

April 2012: Recent acquisitions, UNISA Art Gallery, Pretoria

August 2011: Transcode, UNISA Art Gallery, Pretoria

June 2010: City Breathe, National Arts Festival, Grahamstown

May 2010: 50 Stories, 12 Decades Hotel, Johannesburg

April 2010: 2012, Artspace, Johannesburg

November 2009: Hate – War, Right on the Rim, Arts on Main, Johannesburg

December 2009: Summer Salon, UCA Gallery, Cape Town

September 2009: Elysian Fields, UCA Gallery, Cape Town

August 2009: Anaphora, Michealis Rosedale Gallery, Cape Town

June 2009: Printed, David Brown Fine Art, Johannesburg

May 2009: City Breath, Badilisha Poetry Xchange, Africa Centre, Cape Town

October 2008: Trajectory, Aardklop Arts Festival, Potchefstroom

December 2007: Spier Contemporary, Spier Wine Estate, Western Cape

November 2006: SAArts Emerging, Bag Factory, Newtown, Johannesburg

December 2005: Art, Michelangelo Towers Mall, Johannesburg

January 2005: Drift Between, Substation Gallery, WITS University, Johannesburg

July 2003: Homing In, National Arts Festival, Grahamstown

November 2002: 6 Oon a Scale of 1-10, MuseumAfrica, Johannesburg

July 2002: Martienssen Exhibition, WITS Gertrude Posel Gallery, Johannesburg

January 2002: Fabrications II, Association of Arts, Pretoria

October 2001: Delight, WITS University, Johannesburg

July 2001: Martienssen Exhibition, WITS Gertrude Posel Gallery, Johannesburg

February 2001: Interart Group Exhibition, Spark Gallery, Johannesburg

June 2000: Art and the Body, UNISA Art Gallery, Pretoria

Select Performances:

September 2006: Writing in Stones, collaboration with Jeannette Ginslov, Arts Alive, Johannesburg

Select Reviews and Features:

September 2012: Transcode: The dialectic of dialogue: views and (re)views. De Arte. Issue 85: 59-62

December 2010: Review on Balance at the STD Bank Gallery in Art South Africa

September 2010: Balance, Colleen Alborough at the STD Bank Gallery, www.artthrob.co.za

September 2009: Mind-Enriching Elysian Fields in Cape Times, 8 September 2009

September 2008: Palinsesti 2008, San Vito al Tagliamento, Italy

July 2008: From Here to There in Art South Africa, article on .ZA giovane arte dal Sudafrica

April 2008: Tremors of Insecurity in A Look Away

Feb 2008: .ZA giovane arte dal Sudafrica CATALOGUE, Palazzo delle Papesse, Siena, Italy

September 2007: Haunted territory in Art South Africa, features Alborough as the 9th Bright Young Thing for 2007

December 2006: Experiments with Rubber and Metal in Art South Africa, reviewing Writing In Stones

November 2006: Feature Artist on SAARTS Emerging for November 2006, www.saartsemerging.com

May 2006: “Night Journey”, in YAP Catalogue, KZNSA Gallery

April 2005: the drift between, Review on Drift Between, www.artthrob.co.za

July 2003: Homing In, Review on Homing In, www.artthrob.co.za

July 2003: No Homilies, Review on Homing In, www.artthrob.co.za

July 2003: Homing In, Review on Homing In, Art South Africa

July 2003: Home is where the hurt is, Review on Homing In, Mail and Guardian


  • Unisa Art Collection
  • Graskop Hotel Art Collection
  • Sasol Art Collection
  • Warren Siebrits Collection
  • 12 Decades Hotel Collection
  • Private collections in South Africa, Australia, Italy, Germany and New Zealand.

    Select awards:

    2005: Young Artist Project, KZNSA Gallery

    2004: Postgraduate Merit Bursary, Wits University

    2003: Postgraduate Merit Bursary, Wits University

    National Arts Council Bursary Grant

    Anya Millman Scholarship

    EP / Henry Bradlow / John Lemmer Scholarship

    2002: University Council Merit Scholarship Anya Millman Scholarship

    2001: Ashley and Radmore Fine Arts Prize for Drawing and DesigN

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