About Maud Sulter
Phalia, from the Zabat series 
Cibachrome print, transfer lettering, 152 x 122 cms
Donated by the artist 1992.
Maud Sulter's photographic portraits explore the black contribution to world culture and history. Phalia is one of a series of nine gilt-framed portraits of black women, each dressed to represent one of the Muses. The Greek Muses are traditionally associated with the western artistic tradition of female passivity, whereas Maud Sulter's Muses draw on the older culture of Africa and Egypt. As black Muses they claim power for black women, and the texts which accompany each photograph tell of the misrepresentation of black history. Alice Walker, who appears in Phalia as a personification of the Muse of Comedy and the Bringer of Flowers, has written, "As a black person and a woman, I don't read history for facts, I read it for clues."
The series title Zabat has a number of different meanings: 1. Sacred dance performed by groups of thirteen. 2. 'An occasion of power', possible origin of witches' sabbat. 3. Black women's rite of passage (f. Egy. 18th. dyn.).
The Elbow Room 
Oil on canvas, 183 x 183cm
Donated by the artist, 2006