This long-awaited book on the icons of the fourteen major feasts of the Orthodox Church is the most comprehensive work on the subject in the English language. Richly illustrated, it first describes how each feast developed over time, then maps how their icons evolved from the early centuries, and finishes with a detailed examination of each festal icon’s most recognizable form. This story encompasses not only panel icons, but also frescos, mosaic, metalwork, embroidery and reliefs carved in stone, ivory and wood.
Christian feasts such as Christmas and Easter form the weft of the Christian year, for Orthodox, Catholic and Anglican alike. The book reveals how festal icons are a heritage common to both western and eastern Christendom, the opening chapter charting this interrelationship between east and west in their development.
This study draws together recent scholarship and the warmth of faith. It is an invaluable reference book for all those interested in delving deeper into the world of icons, be they newcomers or scholars.
What some have said about the book:
“Festal Icons: History and Meaning takes a refreshing and welcome approach, moving from historical context to the renewal of the tradition today. Aidan Hart marshals his deep knowledge of the underlying theology of icons and their symbolic content as well as their use in liturgical and festival settings through the ages. Sumptuously illustrated with icons he created (‘prayer without ceasing’, as Hart has said of his process), as well as a veritable museum of comparative images, this new book will be an excellent addition to any sacred art bibliography or syllabus.” (Dr Kathryn R. Barush, Associate Professor of Art History and Religion Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, California)
“An illuminating and richly illustrated discussion of the evolution and symbolic structure of some of the most familiar narrative icons of the Eastern Christian tradition. Written in an engaging and accessible style, Hart systematically explores the theological meanings and social history of the fourteen major icons of the liturgical year, known as Feast or Festal icons. Written by a renowned iconographer and teacher of iconography, Festal Icons: History and Meaning is alive with fresh insights, offering new layers of understanding for art historians, iconographers and iconophiles alike.” (Dr Sophie Matthiesson, Senior Curator, International Art Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki)
TECHNIQUES OF ICON AND WALL PAINTING – New edition with index!
'TECHNIQUES OF ICON AND WALL PAINTING: Egg Tempera, Fresco, Secco' by Aidan Hart
The most comprehensive book to date on the techniques of icon and wall painting, this work has established itself as the seminal work on the subject. A Polish translation is now published, available via Amazon. 460 pages. Over 450 colour illustrations and over 160 drawings. 227mm x 278mm. Hard cover, £40. Gracewing Publishers. Second edition, now with index, 2015.
This is the most comprehensive book to date on the techniques of icon and wall painting. Illustrated by over 450 colour ilustrations and over 160 drawings, it is a source of pleasure and inspiration for the general reader as well as for the practising icon painter. More than just a technical manual, it sets artistic practice in the context of the Church's spirituality and liturgy, with chapters on the theology and history of the icon, and the reasons behind the placement of wall paintings within churches.
"I know of no comparable work in the English language that deals with the technique of icon painting in such a thorough and comprehensive manner. Yet, while concerned with technique, the treatment is never merely technical. At every point we see how technique reveals a transfigured world. Spirituality and technology are combined together, so that each illuminates the other."
From the Preface by Kallistos Ware, Metropolitan of Diokleia
"The wealth of information in this book makes it an indispensable reference not only for iconographers but also for any painter using egg tempera, fresco or secco. It covers all the necessary processes, including the making and gessoing of wooden panels, gilding, preparing pigments, the various techniques for painting in tempera, as well as lime plastering and fresco, right through to photographing finished artwork."
From the Foreword by HRH The Prince of Wales
"This book makes known to us a craft, but more importantly it is the Confessio of a man who epitomizes the liturgical beauty of the Orthodox Church. He is full of joy and this same joy he communicates to us: with his heart he loves, and with his hands he fashions matter. He uses pencil, brush, chisel. He carves wood and stone, works with metal. He fashions form and colour. He manifests the Spirit. And he confesses that 'The Word became flesh'. Thus you see not only how a holy icon is made within the Church, but also how the human person made as an icon of God struggles to become holy."
Archimandrite Vasileios, Iviron Monastery, Mount Athos, Greece
"Aidan Hart combines the vision of the contemplatitive with the skill of a gifted artist. For those many people for whom Icons are a door into the divine there cannot be a better guide."
Dr. Richard Chartres, Bishop of London
"An icon is visual theology, the Word of God. It can only be written in truth by one who seeks and loves this holy Word. Aidan Hart understands this to the depth."
Sister Wendy Beckett, contemplative nun and author on art
BEAUTY SPIRIT MATTER
'BEAUTY SPIRIT MATTER: Icons in the Modern World' by Aidan Hart
A long awaited collection of essays on contemporary issues as seen through the theology of the icon, covering subjects such as ecology, the role of the material world in the spiritual life, beauty, the revival of liturgical art, the nature of the human person, and abstract art. 240mm x 170mm 256pp + 32pp colour plates. UK ISBN 9780852447826, Australian ISBN 9781781829882. RRP £14.99. Gracewing Publishers.
Icons and the theology behind them are a crystallisation of what some of the greatest minds and hearts in history have concluded about matter as a mediator between God and man. In this new collection of essays Aidan Hart considers the insight icons give us into a range of such contemporary issues as the role of our bodies in the spiritual live, ecology, scientific knowledge and the nature of beauty. Ultimately, he argues that icons resonate with our innermost being as creatures made of spirit and matter, and awaken within us a nostalgia for paradise.
"Aidan Hart, one of the greatest living icon-painters, reflects in this book of essays on the place of the Icon in the Christian mystery. Drawing on wide and diverse reading... Aidan helps us to see how the icon reveals a vision in which matter is transfigured, the meaning of mystery reaches throughout the whole cosmos, and human kind, in the image of God, is restored to its role as microcosm and mediator, through God’s embracing matter itself in the Incarnation. This is a profound and arresting book, full of insights and surprises."
Revd. Prof. Andrew Louth FBA, Professor Emeritus of Patristic and Byzantine Studies, Durham University UK.
"Historical and poetic, informative and reflective, certainly dedicated to the transformation of the created nature through the gaze of the icon, Aidan Hart's book offers a unique contribution in iconology. Aidan Hart writes with theological knowledge, but also with the long experience of a practitioner, a man who learned his iconology from the icons themselves. As he mentions in a short anecdote, "we do not judge icons, icons judge us". In his case they also teach us how to think."
Revd Dr. Andreas Andreopoulos, Reader in Orthodox Christianity at the University of Winchester.
"Reviving the classical art of the essay, Aidan Hart has also revived a sensitivity for God’s presence in all things—God, one of whose names is Beauty. This book is rich in wisdom drawn from the iconographic tradition, illuminating the material cosmos, history, the virtues, and the challenges of contemporary life."
Stratford Caldecott, Editor, Second Spring Journal.
"Aidan Hart’s booked is rich and refreshing. It has a striking spiritual depth, deriving from profound knowledge of the Orthodox theological tradition and the wisdom of a creative artist whose art is rooted in prayer. It also has breadth since he is open to the insights of other Churches and artists from all faiths and none."
Father Timothy Radcliffe OP, author and from 1992 to 2001 Master of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans).
“In this astonishing book Aidan takes us through the icon to the very heart and mind of God and thus of ourselves. Perhaps the most challenging statement he makes is that we have been called to become gods by grace and in this fascinating exploration of the art, meaning and beliefs of Orthodoxy, he helps us understand why this could be the key that unlocks a better more godly future. Read this and the world will never appear the same again - thank God!”
Martin Palmer, Secretary General of Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC).