Maud Sulter (1960-2008) was a Scottish artist, poet, playwright and curator, of Ghanaian heritage. Much of her work questions the representation of black women in art and literature. She was a prominent member of the British black arts movement in the 1980s, along with Lubaina Himid and Sonia Boyce.
Her works often reference and reimagine historical or mythological figures. ‘Phalia’ is from a photographic series called ‘Zabat’ (1989) in which Sulter depicts contemporary black female figures in the guise of Ancient Greek muses. In this vibrant photograph (the colours of which are those of the Ghanaian flag), the novelist Alice Walker is cast in the role of Thalia, the goddess of poetry and comedy. Phalia is in fact the name of a town in Ghana. Sulter’s deliberate mistitling shows the interconnectedness between European and African cultures and geographies.