Faith and Incredulity

Do we have to see, or touch, to believe? In this room faith and doubt pervade both the stories and the subsequent representation of two saints. Polidoro da Caravaggio’s painting depicts Saint Thomas, who needed to touch Christ’s wounds to believe in his miraculous resurrection. Saint Christopher had his feast day removed from the Catholic Church’s calendar in 1969 due to lack of proof of his existence. Siobhán Hapaska’s sculpture rehabilitates the popular figure, widely revered as the patron saint of travellers.

Both the painting and sculpture are life-size, naturalistic and even disturbingly real. Caravaggio and his contemporaries represented biblical stories in a realistic manner to heighten their immediacy for the beholder. Here, the uncanny presence of Hapaska’s sculpture engages us in a similar way. Alongside, as if from a parallel reality, a blood-red ‘seepage’ travels down the wall. Alarming, beautiful, and uncertain of meaning, it makes us question what we see, and what we can believe, within and beyond the gallery space.


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