St Peter' Centre Exhibition at Canterbury Cathedral

Opening of the Chapter House Exhibition
This is a review by John Shirland of the Centre's amazingly successful year in 2016, culminating in the first ever exhibition of icons to be held in Canterbury Cathedral.

2016 has been an amazingly successful year.

Three 5-day courses took place. Each began with a celebration of an ecumenical Eucharist. At the end of each course the completed icons were blessed at the High Altar. A total of 27 people lay and ordained, took part, some local, but most from further afield. The icons in the traditional Byzantine/Greek style featured Christ Pantocrator, the Mother of God Hodegitria, Archangels Michael and Gabriel, and Kentish Saints – St. Mildred, St. Alphege and St. Thomas Becket.

The tutor, Peter Murphy, also continued leading the ongoing three-year course for more advanced icon writers entitled ‘Iconostasis’, with seven three-day courses spread throughout the year.  There are eight course members who completed their three year’s work at the beginning of November.  It was arranged through the kindness of the Cathedral, to have the use of the Chapter House for, a ten day exhibition 20th – 30th November - the first icon exhibition in Canterbury Cathedral! The centrepiece of this exhibition was the amazing completed course work of this advanced iconographers group. Their icons on central display boards were stunning, and these were supplemented with examples of their essays and research work. Also displayed were 40 smaller icons painted (written) in the 5-day ‘starter’ courses. Included was the history of the foundation and development of ‘St. Peter’s Centre for Sacred Art’ together with explanations of how icons of the Byzantine/Greek tradition and written today. Peter Murphy displayed some of his work particularly his new icon of Thomas of Canterbury where the words in the amazing halo read, ‘Saint Thomas Pray for Us’. This is being gifted to the Cathedral with the proviso that it is displayed on a site connected with the saint. Bishop Trevor, a supporter of the centre from its inception, opened the exhibition. Over 120 people attended this opening including Dean Robert and the Cathedral Chapter, the Mayor of Canterbury, many distinguished guests, including some from the academic art world. Just under 3000 people attended the exhibition. Many wrote enthusiastically about their experience.

In 2017 there will be three 5-day icon writing courses, in July, August and September. The advanced ‘Iconostasis’ course will continue, with the three people who began in 2016, being joined by others.