Maud Sulter: The Centre of the Frame spotlights the work of Scottish-Ghanaian artist Maud Sulter (1960–2008), whose practice is rooted in questioning the representation of Black women in art and literature. The exhibition brings together Sulter’s iconic photographic series Zabat (1989), which features portraits of contemporary Black female figures dressed as the Greek Muses. It is drawn from public and private loans from across the UK.
In Maud Sulter: Passion (2015), Sulter is quoted as saying: ‘It’s important for me as an individual, and obviously as a black woman artist, to put black women back in the centre of the frame – both literally within the photographic image, but also within the cultural institutions where our work operates.’
Maud Sulter created Zabat in 1989 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the invention of photography. The series, which the artist called a ‘diasporan family portrait’, challenges the invisibility of Black women in art history. The photographs subvert usual representations of the Muses in Western art and highlight the connections between European and African histories and cultures.
Sulter herself has been largely left out of art history. This timely and necessary exhibition is a unique opportunity to discover the work of Sulter and her network of female collaborators. Phalia (Portrait of Alice Walker) was one of the first works to enter the New Hall Art Collection when it was established in the early 1990s. This display highlights the Collection’s history and emphasises its ongoing significance in generating discussion around gender, race and representation.
Curated by: Harriet Loffler (Curator, New Hall Art Collection) and Naomi Polonsky (Assistant Curator, New Hall Art Collection)
Exhibition design: Sally Coleman
The exhibition is open every day between 10-6 and free to visit.