Rule of Three


Self Portrait as Saint Pompette, No. 2

by Amelia Fais Harnas
Mixed media

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A piece of fabric bears a red wine stain. Carefully spilt, spread, and layered, it forms a likeness to its creator. Just as Amelia Fais Harnas sampled her media during the process of production, her vinous twin also raises a glass to her own lips. Bronze powder shimmers as a halo, arranged in concentric circles that pulse outwards, reaching beyond the edge of the material. Grapes may have been put to good use in the work’s creation, but searches for the titular saint will prove far from fruitful. ‘Pompette’, French for ‘tipsy’, is yet to be canonised, even if her favourite tipple is the subject of ‘reverent consecration’. As the artist asserts, though, ‘a certain level of saintliness’ may be experienced by anyone who chooses to sip on this ‘liquid form of divinity’.

Words by John Wadsworth


by Belinde De Bruyckere

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A figure stands, hunched, in a glass-walled display case. Its pallid, greying skin is scarred and streaked with red blemishes. From the shoulders down, it adopts the appearance of a sexless anthropoid, with no genitalia present. Above the collarbone, though, the being transforms into a mass of twisted branches. Some take a slight bend as they travel to the ground. Others buckle, their angles recalling the joints of antelope limbs. The effect is grotesque. Though human and tree alike are organic matter, it is unsettling to see them combined in the body of a single being. While arms are represented as twigs, the head is absent entirely. For the artist, its presence is ‘irrelevant’, no longer necessary; Marthe is itself ‘a mental state’.

Words by John Wadsworth

The Candle

by Katherine Mansfield

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A child is put to bed, tucked in by a beloved grandmother with ‘three kisses’, which she calls ‘three dreams’. As sleepless minutes elapse, the surroundings begin to shift and morph. Under the influence of a fading consciousness, the room seems to grow larger than a church. Its furniture becomes similarly oversized: ‘The wardrobe, quite by itself, as big as a house.’ Inanimate objects appear to come to life, from a grinning jug to an eavesdropping chair. Yet more troubling is the unseen view beyond the window. Mustering her courage, the child peeps through the blinds to discover ‘hundreds of friendly candles all over the sky / In remembrance of frightened children.’ Circumventing the sentimental to reach the sinister, Mansfield creates a ghost story in miniature.

Words by Elizabeth Brown

Today's connection

Amelia Fais Harnas’s Self Portrait as Saint Pompette, No. 2 was created by staining fabric with red wine using a wax resist. Much of Marthe was formed from wax. The candle of Katherine Mansfield’s poem is made from wax.

More to discover

Self Portrait as Saint Pompette, No. 2: Visit Amelia Fais Harnas’s website here.

Marthe: Find out more about Berlinde De Bruyckere on the Gemeente Museum website, and watch a video of the artist’s studio here.

The Candle: Read the poem, along with an analysis by Carol Rumens, on The Guardian website.

Question of the day

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