About us

Sr Esther, a sister at the Priory of Our Lady of Peace in Turvey Abbey in Bedfordshire ( a Roman Catholic community living according to the Rule of Saint Benedict and belonging to the Olivetan family of Benedictines) for many years had a dream of establishing a mutual help and support network amongst iconographers in this country.   She had been compiling a list of people who she thought might like to be included, some she had only heard about and others with whom she was already in contact. Her original vision is still enshrined in our application form for new members. In 1999 Sr Esther approached Liz Whitmore to help form an Association of Iconographers. She sent her close friend and founder member Sandra Marshall to see her, and by November 1999 Liz had loaded Sr Esther’s handwritten lists of names and addresses onto her computer and had sent out the first mailing, asking people whether they would like to receive an invitation to join the new BAI. The first members’ list was established in 2001, the first bulletin, edited by Jackie Marshall, was mailed out to all members, and the line drawings with associated notes and prayers were started by Sr Esther, and these have become an integral part of our mail-out.

Would you be interested in joining the British Association of Iconographers?

We feel there is a risk that people who practise this art form might feel isolated in their work. We offer the Association as a means of maintaining contact between members and of providing them with support in their work and their devotions. We hope that it might be of benefit both to people who are interested in the use of icons in their spiritual life and to those whose interest is in icons as a sacred art form. The aims of the Association are to establish contact with iconographers, learners, beginners and those with a greater proficiency, to deepen our knowledge and understanding of icons and the spirituality associated with them (including Orthodoxy); to offer a forum for the interchange of ideas and techniques; to offer information about forthcoming exhibitions, courses or other events of interest and to be a means of sharing ideas and experiences.

We produce a Review four times a year together with a meditation leaflet on the icon of a particular saint or festival. This includes the historical background and hymnody associated with the subject. We also value any comments and ideas that members have about the Association and, in particular, any material that they think would be of interest to other members which we could include in our journal. We also arrange members days and workshops for members. If you would like to join, please  e-mail us at info@bai.org.uk for more information.

We charge an initial membership fee of £18 per person. Thereafter the annual subscription is £15. If you pay by cheque please make your cheque payable to British Association of Iconographers. If you pay by PayPal we add £1.00 to the cost to cover Paypal charges and costs. From time to time we compile a directory of names and addresses of members for the use of other members. Under the Data Protection Act we need to ask your permission to include your details in this list. Please indicate if you do not wish us to include your details. Please note that we do not have the right to use this information for any other purposes than those of the Association or to give this list to any outside organization.

Rules for the icon painter

Before starting work, make the sign of the cross. Pray in silence, and pardon your enemies.

Work with care on every detail of your icon as if you were working in front of the Lord himself.

During work pray in order to strengthen yourself physically and spiritually; avoid all useless words and keep silence.

Pray in particular to the saint whose face you are painting. Keep your mind from distractions and the saint will be close to you.

When you have to choose a colour stretch out your hands interiorly to the Lord and ask his counsel.

Do not be jealous of your neighbour’s work; his success is your success too. When your icon is finished thank God that His mercy granted you the grace to paint the holy image.

Have your icon blessed by putting it on the altar. Be the first to pray before it, before giving it to others.

Never forget:

The joy of spreading icons in the world

The joy of the work of icon painting

The joy of giving the saint the possibility to shine through his work

The joy of being in union with the saint whose face you are painting