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Karen Blampied

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About the Parish Saints

St. Helier   St John   St.Lawrence  St. Mary  St Ouen de Rouen   St Peter      Progress (pictures and details of stages of writing the icons)

 

Click here to download the Parish Saints Leaflet

 

During 2010 I have set myself an amazing local project.  I am writing an icon of each of the 12 parish saints of Jersey. The title for this iconographic project comes from Psalm 16.

All my delight is in your Saints.

The faithful who dwell in your land.

The lines have fallen for me in

pleasant places.

I have been given a welcome heritage.

 

Karen Blampied standing before drawings of Parish IconsThe twelve Parish Saints are so much part of Jersey’s heritage that these Saints’ names have been an integral part of our Island’s past and present, its community boundaries and identity.  But who are these Saints and why have their names been used in the naming of Jersey’s twelve Parish Churches and consequently the communities that surround them?

 

One thing we do know is that Jersey was at the crossroads of Celtic and Roman saints.  These saints brought a great wealth of spirituality to the island, their witness is a tribute to the history of Christianity as it spread throughout these islands.  AH Evans noted that “ in an effort to prevent new churches being dedicated to saints and martyrs of local fame not necessarily recognised by the church, Pope Hilary (461-468) decreed that dedications should be only to the Saviour, John his Precursor, Mary His Mother, Peter his Apostle and Lawrence his Deacon.[i]

 

All of these exist in Jersey but so too does the hermit Saint Helier and martyr Saint Clement, the Celtic monk Saint Brelade, the Archbishop of Rouen Saint Ouen and the Bishop Saint Martin de Tours.  As well as these we have the great Godhead concept of Faith in the Holy Trinity. 

 

The name of each parish church gives us an insight into its Patron Saint. They provide a combination of story, legend and historical facts that weave an intriguing community story and identity for the island of Jersey.  Whenever I think of St Ouen, I think of it as my grandfather Winter John Le Boutillier’s, parish so when it came to researching and designing the icon of St Ouen I have been warmly reminded of my grandfather. But who was St Ouen? 

 

The finished icons will be 52cm X 42cm made out of recycled wood, a pew from Holy Trinity church.  All natural materials have been used to write the icon each having a theological meaning. The whole process of writing an icon is a theological journey, from the bare wood of the crucifixion to the luminous colours of the resurrection.

 

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St. Helier

 

Saint Helier was a hermit monk living in Jersey in the 6th Century. His legend tells the story of his ascetic lifestyle, starving himself for years. From his vantage point on Hermitage Rock  he would look out across the bay and signal to the shore if there were marauding attackers approaching. Finally he is said to have been beheaded by one such group of attackers and despite his frail body he was able to pick up his head and walk to shore.

 

Writing an icon of St Helier

 

My challenge was to interpret all this information about Helier into an icon. I chose to depict him standing in front of the St Helier Hermitage Rock, as we know it today. His head lies on the sea shore and the offending axe is propped up against a rock. Helier wears the robes of an ascetic monk, one of this hands points to his decapitated head and the other is held in an iconographic gesture that proclaims the divinity and humanity of Jesus Christ

Here is my initial drawing.

 

During St Helier week the 12th to 17th July I will be artist in residence in St Helier at All Saints Church and will be happy to share with you the richness found in writing an icon, especially the icon of Saint Helier.

 

 

 

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Saint John the Forerunner

Initial Drawing of St John the Forerunner
Saint Johns of the Oaks Church is named after John the Baptist. Within the Eastern Orthodox Church he is known as John the Forerunner. As one of the central figures in Christian art and history his mission was one of forerunner and herald to Jesus Christ. His incredible story of martyrdom can be found in Scripture, notably his head being presented to King Herod on a plate.


Writing an icon of St John the Baptist.


My challenge was to interpret all the information about John into an icon. I wanted to include the idea of St John of the Oaks so I included the stylised tree image as found in icons and also the axe lodged in one of the trees. The canon of icons dictates that anyone who is beheaded has to be shown with their head both intact and on a plate so this is evident in the icon. John’s clothing is clearly described in scripture, and so he wears the ascetic hides of animal. His right hand is raised in a gesture of an orator while in the other he hold a scroll. I have not yet included the detail of the face this will be finalised when I begin to paint the icon.

 

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An Icon of Saint Lawrence Initial Drawing of Saint Lawrence

From Article for Les Laurentins magazine

Saint Lawrence Archdeacon of Rome


Saint Lawrence was Archdeacon of Rome during the persecution of Christians. He was martyred on the 10h August 258 by being roasted on a gridiron and is said to have shown no sign of suffering, he was however, heard to say. “Turn me; I am done on this side.”


Writing an icon of St Lawrence

 

My challenge was to interpret all the information about Lawrence into an icon. I chose to depict him with a church in his left hand and a thurible in his right. Both show that as a deacon he was at the service of the church. In the icon is the legendary gridiron, and in the top left hand corner the hand of God can be seen bestowing a blessing on Lawrence, a martyr in heaven for the church on earth.
 

The finished icon will be 52cm X 42cm made out of recycled wood, a pew from Holy Trinity church. All natural materials have been used to write the icon each having a theological meaning. The whole process of writing an icon is a theological journey, from the bare wood of the crucifixion to the luminous colours of the resurrection.

 

To find out more, please visit St Lawrence Church during the week of the 9th to 14th August when I will be artist in residence at that time and will be happy to share with you the richness found in writing an icon, especially the icon of Saint Lawrence.

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An Icon of Saint Mary

Article for the St Mary’s  magazine

 

Saint Mary of the Burnt Monastery


Final Drawing of St MaryMary the Mother of Jesus is seen by many Christians as a saint for her part in the Christian story. The church that is dedicated to her name St Mary of the Burnt Monastery tells its own story of Christian witness. As the name suggests there was a link to a monastery in that area of the island or perhaps the then neighbouring monastic centre in Sark.

 

Writing an icon of St Mary of the Burnt Monastery


Within the canon of iconography Mary is represented through several prototypes.

 

I have taken some of these such as ‘Our Lady who Points the Way’, ‘Our Lady of the Burning Bush’ and ‘Our Lady Enthroned’. I have interpreted them into an icon that depicts the Church’s name Saint Mary of the Burnt Monastery.


Despite the complexity of the subject I have tried to keep the icon simple. I depict Mary enthroned with the monastery on her lap engulfed by flames. In the middle of the burning monastery, is Christ as a young adult. Mary’s right hand points to Christ reminding the onlooker that Christ is the Way the Truth and the Light.


During the week of the 30th August to 4th September I will be artist in residence in St Mary’s Church and will be happy to share with you the richness found in writing an icon, especially the icon of Saint Mary of the Burnt Monastery.

 

Saint Ouen de RouenSt Ouen de Rouen

An Icon of Saint Ouen   Article Originally Written for Lé Gris Ventre.

 

The patron saint of Saint Ouen’s Parish Church is Saint Ouen de Rouen. (Latin Audaenus).  He was born around 609 in Sancy, France, into a Gallo-Roman family and died in Clichy-la-Garenne on the 24th August 683, the date on which his feast day is now celebrated.

Ouen’s childhood was a privileged one, his father,  St Authaire made sure his son was well educated at the Abbey of St Medard. Ouen showed a great talent for learning and as a result of this he was welcomed into the court of Clothaire II and his successor Dagobert I, who made him chancellor as did Clovis. Dagobert  persuaded Ouen not to become a monk and charged him with important missions.  At the Royal court Ouen found a faithful friend Eloi, together they served Dagobert, but at his death they both felt released from their duties and left the court.

 

As a layman, Ouen took up theological study and actively promoted his Christian religion. As a statesman and theologian he encouraged learning and the founding of new monasteries.  In 634/6 Ouen himself founded the Abbey of Rabais on land donated by Dagobert and Clovis.  In 641 Ouen was finally ordained a priest and was consecrated Archbishop of Rouen. The diocese was transformed under his administration especially in his ordering the worship of false gods to cease.

 

Ouen was known for his austerity and charity and did much to combat simony convoking the Synod of Chalons in 644. Ouen supported many missionary activities, sending missionaries to the pagans. Shortly after negotiating peace between Neustria and Austrasia in Cologne he became ill and died.

 

Saint Ouen, who survived Saint Eloi, wrote the life of his friend, in it he gave valuable information on the moral and religious education of that time. It is one of the most authentic historical documents of the 7th Century.[ii]

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Writing an icon of St Ouen.

 

My challenge was to interpret all this historical information about St Ouen into an icon. What were archbishops wearing in those days? Since St Ouen wrote about St Eloi what did 7th Century calligraphy look like? And what did he write about St Eloi that could be relevant for today?  I found several existing images of St Ouen and icons of similar saints of his era.          

                                                           

I then did my initial drawings. I felt it was important to include a scriptorium and a portion of St Ouen’s 7th Century text in the icon, I also decided to take calligraphy classes so that I could write in the Onciale text of that time. Looking at the priestly garments I realised that I could include the parish crest as a motif on the chasuble. The final drawing conformed to the canons of iconography. The spiritual flow lines enabled the eye to look at the theological information of the icon, especially the raised hand of St Ouen which spells the letters ICXC- Jesus Christ in Greek.


[i] A H Evans  - Fief of Sark – A short History of a Guide to Alderney  [ii] First published by Dom Luc d’Achery Spicilegium Vol V 

 

The 7th Century Texts taken from ‘Vie de Saint Eloi Evêque de Noyon et de Tournai par Saint Ouen’

 «  Mais j’avoue en toute humilité que les tendres sentiments de mon cœur me guideront dans les lieux où je ne pourrai me rendre à pied.  J’irai donc par mes vœux ou je ne puis atteindre par mes paroles. »  

« Lui, par l’effet d’une grâce… reçut le nom d’Eloi, qui lui convient parfaitement et qui est comme le miroir de son âme. »

 

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Saint Peter in the Desert


Saint Peter in the Desert Church is named after The Apostle Peter. As one of the central figures in Christian art and history his mission was to establish Christ’s Church on earth. Peter’s story is full of life and meaning and is well documented in scripture.


Writing an icon of St Peter


Initial Drawing of Saint PeterMy challenge was to interpret all the information about Peter into an icon. I wanted to remain true to the canon of iconography in relation to Peter; his clothes, his stature but at the same time include the symbolic meaning of his life’s work. For this reason I included Peter holding in his right hand the ‘church’ which he was invited to build in the name of Jesus Christ. To his left is the symbolic rock, ‘pierre’ referring to himself, on which this church should be built. The desert in reference to the Parish name in this icon is a ‘watery’ desert.

 

I took my inspiration for this from the ‘five mile road’ with its dunes and sea shore. This led me to include a fishing net draped over Peter’s left shoulder, echoing Christ’s call to him to be a fisher-of-men. In the top left hand corner we see Christ handing Peter the ‘keys’ I therefore was able to include the main aspect of the Parish crest and draw attention to the fact that Peter was given the ‘keys’ to the Kingdom of God. In my final drawing I will also include a cockerel, so much part of Peter’s struggle to understand his own faith. A faith that overcame all doubt and is an inspiration to us all.

 

The finished icon will be 52cm X 42cm made out of recycled wood, a pew from Holy Trinity church. All natural materials have been used to write the icon each having a theological meaning. The whole process of writing an icon is a theological journey, from the bare wood of the crucifixion to the luminous colours of the resurrection. To find out more, please visit St Peter’s Church during the week of the 21st to 26th June I will be artist in residence at that time and will be happy to share with you the richness found in writing an icon, especially the icon of Saint Peter.

 

 

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