Maud Sulter

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Maud Sulter
Maud Sulter died 2008.png
crop of a self-portrait
Born19 September 1960
Died27 February 2008
Dumfries, Scotland
OccupationContemporary fine artist, photographer, writer and curator of Ghanaian and Scottish heritage
Known for

Maud Sulter (19 September 1960 – 27 February 2008)[1] was a Scottish contemporary fine artist, photographer, writer and curator of Ghanaian heritage. She died in Dumfries, Scotland, in 2008 and is survived by two daughters and a son.


Born in Glasgow to a Scots mother and a Ghanaian father,[2] Maud Sulter attained a master's degree in Photographic Studies[1] from the University of Derby.[3]


Sulter's photographic practice included contemporary portraiture and montage. Her work typically referenced historical and mythical subjects. Her photography was exhibited in across the UK and internationally, including at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1987; the Johannesburg Biennial (1996); and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in 2003. She received a number of awards and residencies, including the British Telecom New Contemporaries Award 1990 and the Momart Fellowship at Tate Liverpool,[4] also in 1990.

She worked closely with Lubaina Himid, including on the book Passion: Discourses on Blackwomen’s Creativity, published by Urban Fox Press in 1990.[5]

As well as writing about art history and curating many exhibitions,[6] Sulter was also a poet and playwright, whose works include the collections As a Blackwoman (1985; her poem of the same title won the Vera Bell Prize from ACER, the Afro-Caribbean Education Resource, the previous year);[2] Zabat (1989); and Sekhmet (2005). She wrote a play inspired by the background of former Ghana head of state Jerry Rawlings, entitled Service to Empire.


Maud Sulter's work is held in a number of collections, including the Birmingham City Museum and Art Gallery, the Victoria and Albert Museum,[7] the Arts Council Collection, the British Council, the Scottish Arts Council and the Scottish Parliament Collection.

In 2011–12, her work was shown at Tate Britain, London, in the exhibition Thin Black Line(s), which was a re-staging of the seminal 1986 exhibition The Thin Black Line at the ICA.[8]

In 2017, her Muses (Calliope: the muse of epic poetry, and Terpsichore: the muse of dance), two portraits were put on show in the Walker Gallery as part of the largest LGBTQ+ art exhibition in the UK, Coming Out: Sexuality, Gender, and Identity.


Solo exhibitions[edit]

  • 2015 Passion.
  • 2005 Sekhmet. Dumfries: Gracefield Arts Centre
  • 2004 About Face. Organised by the Scottish Poetry Library, Edinburgh, Scottish tour
  • 2003 Jeanne Duval: A Melodrama. Edinburgh: Scottish National Portrait Gallery
  • 2003 A Dozen Kisses. Edinburgh. Dundas Street Gallery
  • 2003 Scots Poets. St Andrews: Stanza at the Byre Theatre
  • 2000 Plantation. Preston: Centre for Contemporary Art, University of Central Lancashire
  • 1999 My Father's House. London: Rich Women of Zurich
  • 1995 Syrcas at Africus. Africus: Johannesburg Biennale. Johannesburg: Greater Johannesburg Transitional Metropolitan Council
  • 1995 Alba. Glasgow: Centre for Contemporary Art; Belfast: Ormeau Baths; Preston: Harris Museum and Art Gallery
  • 1994 Syrcas. Wrexham: Wrexham Library Art Centre and tour
  • 1994 Plantation. Winnipeg: Plug In; Leeds: University of Leeds Gallery
  • 1993 Proverbs of Adwoa. New York: Steinbaum Krauss Gallery
  • 1993 Akwaba. Vancouver: Artspeak Gallery

Joint exhibitions with Lubaina Himid[edit]

  • 2002 Speak English. Glasgow: Glasgow School of Art
  • 1995 Word not Found. Trier: Galerie Palais Walderdorff
  • 1990 Treatise on the Sublime: Maud Sulter, Lubaina Himid. California State University
  • 1989 Blackwoman Song. London: Sisterwrite Gallery
  • 1988 Gold Blooded Warrior. London: Tom Allen Centre
  • 1987 A Room for MaSHULAN, in Lubaina Himid: New Robes for MaShulan. Rochdale: Rochdale Art Gallery

Group exhibitions[edit]

  • 2017 Coming Out: Sexuality, Gender, and Identity. Walker Gallery, Liverpool.
  • 2013 Looking in: Photographic Portraits by Maud Sulter and Chan-Hyo Bae. London: Ben Uri Gallery
  • 2012 Seduced by Art, Photography Past and Present. London: National Gallery; Barcelona: CaixaForum and Madrid: CaixaForum
  • 2012 What We Have Done, What We Art About To Do. Glasgow: Centre for Contemporary Art
  • 2011 Thin Black Line(s). London: Tate Britain
  • 2008 Black Womanhood, Images, Icons, and Ideologies of the African Body. Dartmouth: Hood Museum of Art, Davis Museum and Cultural Centre and San Diego Museum of Art
  • 2006 Reading the Image: Poetics of the Black Diaspora. Chatham (Canada): Thames Art Gallery and tour
  • 2002 Encontros Da Imagem. Braga (Portugal)


  • As a Blackwoman - poetry (1985)
  • Zabat: Poetics of a Family Tree (1989)
  • Passion (Urban - ) Discourses On Blackwomen's Creativity (1990), Urban Fox Press. ISBN 1872124305; ISBN 978-1872124308
  • Necropolis - novel (1990), Urban Fox Press. ISBN 9781872124063
  • Echo: Works by Women Artists, 1850-1940 (1991), Tate Publishing. ISBN 978-1854370815
  • Service to Empire (2002), ISBN 978-0954330200
  • Sekhmet: A Decade or So of Poems (2005), Dumfries and Galloway Cultural Services. ISBN 978-0946280698
  • Deborah Cherry (ed.), Maud Sulter: Passion, Altitude Editions, 2015, [1] ISBN 978-1-906908-36-2
  • Deborah Cherry, "The Ghost Begins by Coming Back: Revenants and Returns in Maud Sulter's Photomontages", in A. Lepine, M. Lodder, R. McKever (eds), Revival, Memories, Identities, Utopias. London: Courtauld Books Online, 2015


  1. ^ a b "Maud Sulter" (obituary), The Herald Newspaper, 22 March 2008.
  2. ^ a b Margaret Busby (ed.), "Maud Sulter", Daughters of Africa, London: Vintage, 1993, p. 921.
  3. ^ "PART ONE: Contemporary Biographies: MAUD SULTER", EBSCO, January 2006.
  4. ^ "Centre of the Creative Universe: Liverpool and the Avant-Garde: Timeline".
  5. ^ "Maud Sulter" at Diaspora Artists.
  6. ^ "Maud Sulter", Autograph ABP.
  7. ^ "Urania (Portrait of Lubaina Himid); Zabat". Victoria & Albert Museum.
  8. ^ "Thin Black Line(s)", Making Histories Visible.

External links[edit]