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2017 August & September Artwork of the Month

St Thomas' Night by Frances Lemmon

St Thomas' Night

Artist:  Frances Lemmon

Medium: Oil and gold leaf on canvas


A common theme in the work of the local artist Frances Lemmon is Guernsey Folklore. Full of spells and superstitions, this subject provides Frances with an opportunity to reveal dreamlike and surreal images.

The particular piece of Guernsey folklore illustrated in this painting refers to St Thomas' Night, when girls would carry out a spell in order find out in a dream who they were to marry. According to Edgar McCulloch in his book of Guernsey Folklore several methods could be used.

This spell involves the girl taking a golden pippin and passing two pins crossways through it, then laying it under her pillow wrapped in a stocking. After all this, the girl then needed to get into bed backwards, and repeat the following incantation three times:—


"Saint Thomas, Saint Thomas,

Le plus court, le plus bas,

Fais moi voir en m'endormant

Celui qui sera mon amant,

Et le pays, et la contrée.

Où il fait sa demeurée,

Et le métier qu'il sait faire

Devant moi qu'il vienne faire.

Qu'il soit beau ou qu'il soit laid

Tel qu'il sera je l'aimerai.

Saint Thomas, fait moi la grâce

Que je le voie, que je l'embrasse."

"Ainsi soit il."


And in English:


"St. Thomas, St. Thomas,
The shortest, the lowest,
Let me see when I fall asleep
The one who will be my lover,
And the land, and the land.
Where he makes his dwelling,
And the job he knows how to do.
Before me he comes to do.
Whether beautiful or ugly
As I shall be, I shall love him.
Saint Thomas, do me the grace
May I see him and embrace him. "
"So be it."