The Relief Carving of Jonathan Pageau

25 03 2011

Here is some relief carving by Jonathan Pageau, an artisan based in Canada. Jonathan is Orthodox and is working very much within the iconographic form, the principles of which he will not compromise, as one would expect. However when I chatted with him about his work, it struck me that as well the more familiar Eastern forms, he has an interest in traditional Western forms of iconographic art as well.
He is happy therefore to consider the portrayal of some Western types that are not part of the usual Eastern canon. He works in wood and a soft soapstone from Kenya called Kisii stone. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Pythagorean Prayer of the Cosmos

22 03 2011

The powerful prayer for creativity and inspiration and joy, which is perfected in the Church (Others in series on Divine Office here) Since the ancient Greeks there has been the idea that the happy life is the result of a good life, and a good life is a beautiful life. In the 6th century BC the philosopher Pythagoras (the same one who has a geometric theorem named after him) gathered around him a religious group of ‘Pythagoreans’ who sought to order their lives according to this principle of beauty and order. They drew their inspiration from their observations of the beauty of the cosmos. When viewed in the way of the Pythagoreans, making our actions and work beautiful becomes a guiding principle in life, just like morality. Morality tends to guide by placing boundaries on our activity – it tells us what not to do. This is necessary. Beauty, however, complements this by providing a positive principle of choice. Read the rest of this entry »





The Unsurpassed Power and Effectiveness of the Prayer of Christ – Divine Office IV

18 03 2011

The Liturgy is the most powerful and effective form of prayer. This is the fourth in a series on the Liturgy of the Hours. The others are here.

The Liturgy (the Mass and Liturgy of the Hours) is not just powerful and effective. It is the most powerful and effective action of the Church on our behalf. Christ participated in it historically; and continues to do so eternally in heaven and on earth and we participate in His prayer through his mystical body, the Church.  Read the rest of this entry »





The Quincunx – a Geometric Representation of Christ in Majesty

16 03 2011

One of my hopes for the cultural renewal is the revival of a Christian form of geometric patterned art. With this in mind I have done my best to study past work, and try to discern the principles that underlie its creation. I wrote about resources that help in this respect in a previous article, here.

If tasked with the design of an ornate sanctuary floor now, for example, how might one go about it? Read the rest of this entry »





The Sacred Art of Manuel Farrugia

11 03 2011
Manuel Farrugia, who painted these, is a young man just 22-years old from Gozo, Malta.
Most of the skilled naturalistic painters today have received the traditional academic training in a form that resembles that offered in the ateliers of the 19th century. This is an excellent training for portraiture and still lives particularly, but it sometimes causes problems when painting sacred art. Regular readers will be aware from past articles, for example here and here, of how I feel that a strong emphasis on individual facial expressions and characteristics, which is appropriate in portrait painting, creates overly sentimental sacred art. Read the rest of this entry »




Prayer of the Heart – How to Engage the Whole Person in Prayer. The Divine Office III

8 03 2011


Engaging the Whole Person in Prayer  Opens us up Further to Inspiration and Creativity – The Divine Office III, part II here, part I here.

In the sight of angels I will sing praise to you (Ps 138:1). Let us rise in chanting that our hearts and voices harmonise.’ (Rule of St Benedict: Ch 19)

The heart is the human centre of gravity, our very core that incorporates both body and soul. It is the place that represents the whole person, the vector sum of all our actions and thoughts. If our hearts are to be in harmony with the prayers of the angels in heaven as St Benedict suggested, we need to consider not just our thoughts and voices, but our actions, our bodies and even how are senses are engaged in the action of prayer. Read the rest of this entry »





The Brussels Academy of Icon Painting

5 03 2011

As a postscript to the article about the work of Irina Gorbunova-Lomax, a reader has sent me information about two more websites with more up-to-date work of hers on display. You can see them here and here. I was also contacted by an old friend of mine from Oxford, a Catholic, who is studying with her. As ever, I am delighted to receive this additional information from readers and, in turn, happy to pass it on to you. Originally from the Ukraine, Irina studied in Russia. She is married to an Englishman and lives in Brussels (she is not based in France as I first thought). She runs a 4-year, part-time course in icon painting (38 three-hour lessons over this period). She is an excellent teacher by all accounts and, I was told, she is respectful of the Catholic Faith and many Catholics are already learning with her. Read the rest of this entry »