Manchester Art Gallery

Sibylla Delphica

Object description

Figure of Sibylla Delphica, priestess of Apollo, standing dressed in classical drapery in bright orange, her hair secured in a blue headscarf. She stands facing the viewer, with her head turned to the left, looking at laurel leaves which she holds in her right hand, a stem of the same plant in her left hand. A tripod altar burns behind her, on the left, incense smoke rising high. The scene is set in a temple, with marble floors and doorway behind on the left. In an renaissance style elaborate frame with moulded plaster relief decoration.

Display label

Whose Power on Display?

A group of Manchester Art Gallery staff, artist-collaborators and gallery users worked with artist Sonia Boyce to start a process of change. We are exploring how the politics of class, gender, race and sexuality in the gallery’s historic collection displays can be reconsidered for today. Six Acts is part of an ongoing public conversation asking what we may miss if contemplating works of art solely for their aesthetic or narrative qualities.

Works on display in this gallery often use classical myth to perpetuate Victorian myths of gender and power. They can expose power relationships at play in art and society and reveal some of the stereotypes and inequalities that shape people’s lives. The current labels could be seen as limiting, as there are many different ways to understand these works of art.

The gallery is a place where we question the present as much as the past. Art shapes as well as reflects society, so how we redisplay this gallery is important and open for discussion.