Commissioning an icon screen
Aidan Hart has over twenty years experience in designing and making icon screens, along with their icons. He is skilled in both stone and wood carving, and so can more readily make a screen that harmonizes with the church’s design and scale, and which meets the pastoral needs of the parish or monastery.
Very often he is also asked to design and make the church furniture, such as artophoria, reiiquaries, Holy Table (altar), lamps, and candlestands.
Some examples of the screens that he has made to date can be found below.
Please feel free to contact him for any inquiries.
A brief history of the icon screen can be found at the bottom of this page.
All images are copyright and can not be used for any purpose without permission.
Many thanks to Benedict Scorey at Lancaster University for compiling this time-lapse video of the wall painting we painted last month at the Catholic chaplaincy… Many thanks too to Fran Whiteside and Martin Earle for their help with the painting painting!
More images of the fresco can be found on the fresco section of this website – www.aidanharticons.com, and I have also written an article about the project, including the techniques we used, on the excellent Orthodox Arts Journal – www.orthodoxartsjournal.org
A brief history of the iconscreen:
The iconscreen (also called iconostases or templon) is a form of partition between a church’s sanctuary area and the nave. It distinguishes the altar (representing heaven) from the nave (representing paradise), but also unites them, showing that through the Incarnation the Father has “united all things in Christ”.
It seems that all churches had some such partition from the early centuries of Christianity, both in the East and in the West. These began as a low wall, perhaps just two or three feet high (60 to 90 cm).
In the early Byzantine period until about the ninth century the partition generally took the form of columns carrying a carved epistyle, with carved panels in between the columns except for where the central and side entrances were. These screens could be in a straight line or rectagular, stepped out into the nave.
Screens in the West could sometimes be like this, but more commonly remained as low chancel walls, without columns, as can still be seen in some of the older churches in Rome.
Soon after the fall of iconoclasm in 843, in Byzantium icons began to be added along the top of the epistyle, and were also often painted on the church pillars either end of the screen.
In the late Byzantine church (1261-1453) we see icons of the Saviour, the Virgin and saints being placed in the spaces between the columns of the screen itself. This is really the birth of the iconscreen as we know it, as distinct from the purely architectural sanctuary-nave partition.
In Russia, iconscreens – which tended to be of wood – reached great heights from around the 1400’s onwards, having up to five tiers of icons.
There are infinite variations in design and material. In the Coptic Church, for example, the screen traditionally is of wooden lattice work. In medieval times western European churches developed the rood screen (“rood” referring to the cross which surmounted these screens), although this could be situated not only in front of the altar, but also further west to enclose the choir or chancel.
From the twentieth century there has been a trend in the Orthodox Church towards the lower screen design, but one can still find all types and heights still being made.