Doubting Thomas


Michael Smither



  • Mural


  • Acrylic paint


  • H4430 x W5620mm

Michael Smither, ‘Doubting Thomas’ (c.1970), St Joseph’s Church, Ngāmotu New Plymouth

Image: Bronwyn Holloway-Smith, Public Art Heritage Aotearoa New Zealand, 2021


Michael Smither was not actually commissioned to do this mural, but in his view the new, well-lit walls of the recently completed St Joseph’s “cried out for murals." His first charcoal sketch of the work was reportedly cleaned off by a church official in haste. A local priest, however, had seen it and suggested he remake it in a more permanent medium.

According to Smither: “He had once seen a couple of Stanley Spencer paintings in the Wellington City Gallery; they impressed me and set me reading. Spencer was interested more in form and space – not at all like the impressionists. It gave his work a solidity,” and Smither was looking for the same substance.

The focus of the work is as much the reaction of the other apostles as it is the Thomas and Christ figures. The work also includes women and children and even a little dog. The sense of weight and shape, and the addition of sharp, defined edges became a hallmark of his work.

This work was to become the first of two murals in St Josephs, six years later it was joined by 'The Baptism of Christ' on the other wall at the back of the church – both are about 20’ long x 12’ high.

The St Joseph’s website carries a banner image of the two.