It was a great honour to be asked to design the Anointing Screen for the Coronation of His Majesty King Charles III
New Mosaic Website
ICON PAINTING WORKSHOPS WITH AIDAN HART FOR 2018
Transfiguration fresco, Lancaster University
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
Footage of Mosaic for St George’s Orthodox Church, Houston, Texas
After one and half years and around half a million hand-cut tesserae, our two mosaics for St George's Orthodox Church, Houston, USA, are now installed. Please click here, or go to the Mosaic section of the website, to see images of the completed works. Many thanks to Fr. James Shadid for instigating such a remarkable project. And thanks too to all the hands who came to help Martin Earle and I complete the work - whether for an afternoon, for a week or for a month - Vasiliki Argyropoulou , Svetlana Elantseva, Ada Germany, Jane Bracey, Jodi Le Bigre, Victoria Handbury-Madin, Anna Karantanis, Janina Zang, Michael Hallzon, Lisa Abbott and Thomas Hogg. This video was filmed outside the studio, before the mosaic panels where shipped to Houston in December...
Icon Diploma Exhibiton
Many thanks for everybody who made the Icon Diploma final exhibition at the Prince's School of Traditional of Arts such a terrific success. Anyone unlucky enough not to have made it still has a chance to see some of the splendid icons at L. Cornelissen & Son. The venerable artist's supply shop in central London, much loved by iconographers for their stocks of pigment and gold leaf, is hosting a selection of the works in their shop window. The icons will be on display until 11th November. Details about how to find Cornelissen's can be found on their website.
Designs for The Oratorian Community at St Chad’s, Manchester
The Oratory of St Chad in Manchester have invited Aidan Hart Icons to take part in an exciting re-ordering of their church. You can see some of the initial concept designs for wall paintings in the Lady Chapel below.
New Polish Translation of Techniques of Icon and Wall Painting
Icon Diploma Exhibition
Aidan's diploma students will be exhibiting their icons at the Prince's School of Tradional Arts next month. The exhibition opens on Monday 17th October 2016 at 9:30 and closes on Friday 21st October at 14:00. The private view is on 18th October, from 18:00 – 21:00.
Please have a look a the invitation for more details. We hope to see you there!
Kiots for Russian Orthodox Cathedral of the Dormition, London
The Russian Orthodox Cathedral of the Dormition, London, commissioned Aidan to design and have made eight icon cases (kiots). These are being crafted with great skill and attention to detail by Dylan Hartley with the carving skillfully executed by Tim Royall.
Designs for a choros
For the past few months I have been a consultant for a cathedral’s restoration. As part of this work I designed a choros chandelier. Thanks to computer technology and the skill of a colleague, Tim Royall, you can see computer generated images of how the choros will look.
2016-2019 Icon Painting Diploma
Applications are now open for entry into the 2016-2019 Icon Painting diploma.
This Diploma course, taught by Aidan Hart and run by the Prince's School of Traditional Arts, is based on the traditional model of master and apprentice teaching. Instruction will cover all the processes required to create traditional icons in egg tempera, including panel preparation, gessoing, gilding, pigment making, design principles and painting techniques. The practical work of the students will be placed into context through studies of the masterpieces of icon painting and talks on theology and the relationship of iconography to church architecture and worship. Students will also be guided in ways of developing their skills in the contemporary business environment.
The course is based in Shropshire, and consists of seven three-day sessions a year, with extra practical studies requiring at least a further four hours work a week at home.
The next intake will be in October 2016. The deadline for applications is 1st March 2016.
To apply, please download the following information sheets and complete application form:
If you have any questions about the diploma please contact Aidan Hart 07910246774 or Margot Stone 020 7613 8532
New pictures of the Houston mosaics in progress
In 2014 Aidan Hart Icons received an exciting commission for St George’s Orthodox Church in Houston, Texas. The parish asked for two mosaics, one depicting the Crucifixion and the other The Descent into Hell. Each mosaic is to measure around 5 x 3.5 metres (16.5 x 11.5 feet) and will be installed in their renovated and expanded church.
Work began on the mosaics at the beginning of 2015 and is progressing well. We've recently uploaded some new photographs of the work in progress and a brief explanation of our mosaic technique. We’ll continue to add photographs as the works progress…
Aidan elected fellow of the Temenos Academy
Aidan has recently had the honour of being elected a Fellow of the Temenos Academy.
In 1980 the poet and scholar Kathleen Raine, together with Keith Critchlow, Brian Keeble and Philip Sherrard, launched Temenos, a journal devoted to the Arts of the Imagination. The journal sought to give space to poets, artists, writers and thinkers who subscribed to the belief that man is firstly a spiritual creature with spiritual needs which have to be nourished if we are to fulfil our potential and be happy. From these early beginnings the Temenos Academy was launched in 1990.
The Academy's Patron is HRH Prince of Wales. There are currently about thirty-three Fellows from over the world, all scholars and artists eminent in their field.
2nd Edition of Techniques of Icon and Wall Painting now available
A new edition of Techniques of Icon and Wall Painting is now available to buy. As well as making updates and correcting typos, a very useful five page index has been added – no more wasted hours searching for the page on egg glazes or hog haired bushes!
The Techniques of Icon and Wall Painting is the most comprehensive book to date on the techniques of icon and wall painting and has established itself as the seminal work on the subject. Translations are pending in Polish and Arabic. 460 pages. Over 450 colour illustrations and over 160 drawings. 227mm x 278mm. Hard cover, £40. Gracewing Publishers.
“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
Hanging oil lamp
This bespoke bronze oil lamp is inspired by early Byzantine designs. Contemporary oil lamps can be somewhat florid, but here we have tried to return to the elegance of simpler but well crafted earlier models. Designed by Aidan, made by Frazer Picot, and the glass hand blown by Nikki Williams of Ironbridge.
Similar lamps, of whatever size, can be made to order.
Some recent commissions….
January has seen a flurry of commissions completed - including an altar and lectern for Cambridge University Catholic chaplaincy and a painted tabernacle that is now on its way to Silverstream Priory in County Meath, Ireland. The winter edition of the Aidan Hart Icons quarterly newsletter, with some more photos and details, is about to be sent out. You can subscribe to the newsletter here. The magnificent Cimabue crucifix pictured below was commissioned by the chaplaincy from the Hamilton Kerr Institute in 2005.
New index for the Techniques of Icon and Wall Painting
Gracewing will be realising the second edition of 'Techniques of Icon and Wall Painting' this Spring. As well as some minor revisions, the new edition will include a long awaited index - no more wasted hours searching for the page on egg glazes or hog haired bushes! For anyone who already has a copy the new index is now available here and under 'Resources'.
Gessoing and Icon Board making courses with Dylan Hartely
The dates for Dylan's highly recommended icon board making and gessoing courses are now available! This year Dylan will be running two sets of two day courses in his workshop in the beautiful Iron Bridge Gorge. The first course covers the process of making a tulip wood icon board and, in the second, preparing the board for painting including the application of fifteen layers of gesso. Choose to take part in both courses or only one. More information available here.
Icon board making courses
2 days 9am until 4pm. £220 incl. materials and 2 boards to take home.
Commence 11th & 12th May 2015
Commence 13th & 14th July 2015
Commence 14th & 15th September 2015
Icon board gesso courses
2 days 9am – 6pm day 1 and 9am – 2pm day 2,. £220 incl materials and 2
boards to take home.
Commence 14th & 15th May 2015
Commence 16th & 17th July 2015
Commence 17th & 18th September 2015
Loft chapel iconostasis
This screen has been made for the loft chapel of the Roman Catholic priest, Father Michael Krychiwskyj in Leeds. The icons have been painted by Aidan over a long period of time, the penultim
ate icon of the Transfiguration being installed in November. The final icon, to be placed over the Royal Doors, is to be of Christ washing the disciples’ feet. The oak screen was designed by Aidan and made by Dylan Hartley.
RELIQUARY OF SAINT VINCENT OF ZARAGOZA
St Vincent was a deacon martyred in Valencia under Diocletian in 304AD. St Mary Magdalene Russian Orthodox Church in Madrid was given a relic of this saint and so they commissioned a reliquary to hold it. Aidan designed the reliquary, hand carved the silver for the cloisonné and set the stones. The box was made by Dylan Hartley, and the cloisonné was painstakingly made by Christabel Anderson.
Cloisonné was chosen in the past for prestigious church items, but is rarely made now on account of the laborious and skilful processes involved. Gold or silver wire is first enamelled to a base, and then the islands so formed are filled with coloured enamels and fired. But since each colour has a different firing temperature and must be built up in layers, many firings are required. When the firings are completed, the surface is carefully polished to a flat surface. I am delighted that in Christabel, who as an Orthodox believer involved full-time in the liturgical arts, we finally have a skilled craftsperson who can make cloisonné. Hopefully more commissions will be forthcoming.
Wrought Iron Screen, St Michaels and All Angels, Bedford Park, London.
Finally installed in September after nine months of labour, this massive hand wrought iron screen measures 3.3 x 2.7 metres ( 11 x 9 ft). It was hand-forged by master blacksmith Frazer Picot of Shropshire, and was designed by Aidan Hart. It is probably the largest hand wrought screen of this complexity to have been made for a church in Britain for decades. Everything has been either been riveted or fire welded, a difficult traditional technique in which two sections of iron are heated in the forge and hand forged together. The screen, soon to be partially gilded, was commissioned to cover the wooden pipes of a recently installed organ. It bears a large icon of the Archangel Gabriel, paired with another icon of the Virgin placed on the other side of the sanctuary which together form the Annunciation. For further explanation of the icons' and screen’s meaning, click here to download an article in PDF format.
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. ISBN 9780852447826. RRP £14.99. Gracewing Publishers.
"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.
"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).
Bedford Park screen
Work on a wrought iron screen for St Michaels and All Angels parish in London, is progressing well. The work, which was designed by Aidan Hart Icons, is being hand wrought by master blacksmith Frazer Picot. Aidan has just finished painting the 1.6 metre high icon of the Archangel Gabriel which will sit in the screen's centre.
Aidan Hart Icons is starting a quarterly email newletter, with images and news of the latest icon projects and information about any upcoming events or talks.
If you would like to subscribe to this, please follow this link and fill in your name and email address.
Blessed Virgin Mary of Lincoln
In a solemn and moving service on 31st May, the feast of the Visitation, The Blessed Virgin Mary of Lincoln was dedicated in Lincoln Cathedral by the Rt Revd Christopher Lowson, Bishop of Lincoln.
The 7ft tall stone carving of the Christ and the Virgin Mary, in whose name the historic Cathedral is dedicated, is one of the largest works commissioned by the Dean and Chapter since The Reformation. The sculpture now sits in a chapel at East End of the cathedral, looking down the length of the magnificent South Aisle. It is hoped that this corner of the cathedral will become a little Bethlehem, a place of contemplation and prayer for reconciliation for the whole Christian family.
This major commission is carved from a single block of Lincolnshire limestone and, in the tradition of Romanesque and Gothic carving, polychromed using egg tempera and natural pigments. The design is a unison of many influences, in particular the ‘Our Lady of the Sign’ icon and Romanesque carvings of the Virgin enthroned and Christ in majesty. Above all it is an icon not only of the Virgin Mary, but of God Incarnate who, through Mary, has forever united Himself to our human nature.
From you, O Virgin, God was incarnate and became a child, our God before the ages. He made your body into a throne, and your womb He made more spacious than the heavens. All of creation rejoices in you, O Full of Grace! Glory to you!
- Orthodox liturgy
Caius College Annunciation
This icon, measuring 735 x 430 mm (29 x 17 inches) was installed this February in the chapel of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. The throne behind the Virgin draws on elements of the college's architecture, and the symbols on the foot rest are from the dining hall's stained glass windows. These symbols represent major discoveries made by members of the college, such as the DNA by Francis Crick and the Venn diagram by John Venn. This has been done to show that the Lord's incarnation in human nature also embraces human culture and the wonders of the created world.
Wrought iron screen commission, St Michael and All Angels Church
Aidan Hart Icons has been commissioned to design and have made a wrought iron screen for St Michael and All Angels Church in Bedford Park, London. The screen, measuring around 2.7 x 3.3 metres ( 9 x 11 ft), will be hand-forged by master blacksmith Frazer Picot using the traditional 'fire welding' method rather than arc or gas welding. It has been designed to cover the wooden pipes of a recently installed organ and will bear a large icon of the Archangel Gabriel. This icon will be complemented by an icon of the Mother of God on the south side of the church - together creating an Annunciation. The screen is due to be completed by May 2014.
Blessing of Christ the Pantocrator of Roath
As parish priest Fr Irvin Hamer looks on, the ex-Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, takes to the streets of Cardiff to bless a mosaic of Christ Pantocrator.
Aidan Hart Icons made the icon which was installed onto the exterior wall of St Martin's Church in Roath last March. At the end of a beautiful High Mass, the mosaic was dedicated and named 'Christ the Pantocrator of Roath' in a solemn rite of blessing.
Our Lady of Capel-y-finn
This icon was commissioned to revive an old pilgrimage site at Capel-y-finn near Hay-on-Wye in Wales, where the Virgin appeared to two children. The icon depicts the Virgin's appearance to the children while they played ball, with St Mary's chapel in the background. For information about pilgrimages to Capel-y-finn ring Father Richard at 01497 820448.
Five iconstands (analoys) were commissioned by the Orthodox Parish of Saint John of Kronstadt, Bath. Designed by Aidan Hart and crafted in sycamore by Dylan Hartley.
Choosing stone for Our Lady of Lincoln
I have just been to Lincolnshire to look for local stone for carving Our Lady of Lincoln - commissioned for the chapel at the east end of the famous Lincoln Cathedral. The illustration shows the half size maquette for the work.
Although it is not usual for the Orthodox Church to use three dimensional imagery, there is a strong tradition in Western Christendom. In this work I am trying to make the sculpture act like an icon, so that people are led through it to the Mother of God. To this end I have drawn on the rich tradition of Romanesque art. To my mind this period is the most advanced in the history of western in producing effective iconographic imagery. Drawing on this tradition will also help to integrate the work into the cathedral, which is a Romanesque creation.
Recently made to order for a private chapel, this chandelier is 62cm in diametre and cast in solid brass. It was made in collaboration with three other craftspeople - Nikky Willams of Kinki Glass who made the hand-blown bowls, cabinet maker Dylan Hartley who made the original former and Madeley Brass Castings who sand cast it. This work is fully electrified, with fittings which are cunningly hidden from view, but it would also be possible to make an oil-lamp chandelier using the same design.
Kivot for Madrid
This large kivot, or icon casing, has just arrived at St Mary Magdalene's Russian Orthodox Church in Madrid. It has been made to house a large icon of the church's namesake, and the carving at the base depicts her encounter with the risen Christ, the new Adam, in the garden. At the top of the frame the words 'Christ is Risen' are carved and gilded in Spanish and Slavonic. I worked with cabinetmaker Dylan Hartley, who did a superb job building the frame in oak.
Four living creatures
A new work for St Luke's Episcopalian Church in Silverstream, Georgia, USA, carved in oak primarily by Aidan's assistant, Martin Earle. The winged living figures, symbols of the Evangelists, are inspired by a 11th century ivory from Germany or Northern Italy. Originally it would have decorated the cover of an Evangiliary, a manuscript containing all four Gospels. This icon, however, will be installed 30 feet up on the ceiling of St Luke's at the intersection of two structural beams
Doors for the Church of Mary Magdalene, Madrid
These mighty oak doors have just been sent to Madrid, where they’re to be installed into the main entrance of the new Russian Orthodox Church of Mary Magdalene. The carvings are inspired by early Spanish designs with plants and birds that evoke the garden of Eden. On the inside of the door sixteen icons in gold leaf on patinated copper depict the major feasts of the Christian year. Aidan designed the doors and produced the copper icons. His assistant, Martin Earle, carved most of the panels under Aidan's guidance. The joinery was by Worrall Joinery, and master blacksmith Frazer Picot hand forged the iron fittings.
Mosiac, St Martin’s, Cardiff
As part of a refurbishment project at St Martin’s in Roath Aidan has just finished installing this large mosaic of Christ Pantocrator. The design draws on Western and Eastern influences, especially the Deësis mosaic in Hagia Sophia and an image of Christ from the vault of Sancta Sanctorum chapel in Rome.
It is has now been set into the church’s exterior north wall, about 30 feet above a bustling high street in central Cardiff.
He worked alongside stonemason Paul Mitchell who carved a frame for the mosaic in Bath stone and Martin Earle and Ulia Clow who helped lay some of the many thousands of coloured glass ‘tesserae’ which make up the icon.
New wall painting, Shrewsbury
In August I completed a wall painting on the east wall of my medieval parish church, The Greek Orthodox Church of the Holy Fathers, Shrewsbury, England. On some of the other walls there already exist simple medieval wall paintings, dating from around 1380 A.D., but the east wall was newly plastered during recent restoration work and was therefore free for a new painting.
The image depicts Christ in glory, flanked by two six winged cherubim and surrounded by the four living creatures who represent the four Evangelists. The Biblical inspiration for such depictions are the visions recorded in Isaiah 6:1-7, Ezekiel 1:4-12, and Revelation 4:6-8.
Stylistically the secco is a union of Romanesque and Byzantine influences. The overall scheme of Christ in a mandorla with the four living creatures is a theme commonly depicted in Romanesque wall paintings in France and Spain. More specifically, I adapted the four living creatures from the Bury St Edmunds Bible (created about 1135 A.D.), and Christ’s tunic from the stained glass windows in Canterbury Cathedral (1180-1207 A.D.).
The painting measures 6 metres by 3 metres (10 feet x 20 feet), and was begun as fresco (that is, on wet lime plaster) and completed in secco (on dry plaster). The medium used in both the fresco and secco phases was egg yolk and limewater. Recent analysis has shown that this was the technique and medium used in the famous paintings by Manuel Panselinos in the Protaton church, Mount Athos. Having mentioned this recent discovery in my book “Techniques of Icon and Wall Painting”, and experimented with it on small panels, I was keen to see how it worked on a larger scale. The lime water and egg seem to make a very robust chemical bond. I was very pleased how the secco stages united aesthetically with the fresco stages; helped by the use of natural earth pigments, the secco painted regions look translucent and integral with the wall.
In a simple rectangular church with a hipped roof such as this, the focal point is the east wall. There are no appropriate places to depict Christ in the ceiling, and this is why on the east wall in such “basilican” churches the central figure is usually Christ rather than the Mother of God.
Upcoming lecture in Cedar Park, Texas
Aidan has been invited to give a lecture in at St John's Orthodox Church in Cedar Park, near Austin in Texas. The event is free and open to the public so anyone living in the area is warmly invited to attend. Aidan's talk will expand on iconography's relationship to topical issues including modern art, ecology and community.
You can now click here to download the talk as a PDF