The Iconostasis Programme

Student at work on Byzantine St Michael Icon


This is a course designed by Iconographer Peter Murphy to enable students to undertake a comprehensive study of Byzantine icon and panel painting techniques.

The structure of the course allows students to study up to three separate, but interlinked one year units. Students can choose to study for one, two or three years. It is expected that after three years of study the student will have acquired sufficient skills, knowledge and expertise to enable them to function as an independent iconographer.

Contact time will be for three days per month for seven months of the year. In addition to the teaching of painting and gilding techniques during the contact time, specific practical monthly homework and contextual study tasks will be set.

The contextual study element of the programme will encourage students to explore the theology and history of the icon, and understand its role and development as a liturgical art.

Students will be asked to demonstrate their understanding of the contextual element of the programme with a series of visual diaries, presentations and or written essays.

The practical painting element of the course will take the form of the exploration of the major icons of the icon screen or ‘iconostasis’ of an Orthodox Church.

 In the first year of the course, starting with the icon of Christ Pantocrator students will paint a minimum of four and maximum of six single figure icons from the lower tier of the iconostasis, including an icon of the Mother of God Hodegitria, St Peter or St Paul, and the Archangel Michael or Gabriel.

Drawing must be considered the primary and essential tool of the iconographer. From the start of the course students will be expected to make careful, hand drawn preparatory works, and submit them for approval, before commencing their work on panel.

The second year of study will consist of a minimum of four of the more complex single figure icons and compositions, such as a full standing figure icon of St John the Baptist, and some of the simpler multi figure feast day icons from the iconostasis, like the Annunciation.

The third year of the course will explore the more complex multi figure feast day icons including the crucial icon of the Transfiguration of the Lord.

 During the third year of the course students will also have the chance, if they wish, to diversify and explore Romanesque painting and the techniques of Early Italian masters such as Duccio.

The final icon to be painted on the course will be a second icon of Christ Pantocrator, painted any size and utilising any of the styles and techniques acquired over the three years of study, thus bringing the study of ‘Iconostasis’ full circle.

At the start of the course basic equipment and materials will be provided, but it is expected as the course continues and students become more experienced at working independently, they will procure their own sets of pigments, brushes and gilding tools.

Basic panel making and gessoing will also be taught in the first year for those students wishing to make their own panels for the course.

A full list of suppliers for panels, pigments, gold leaf and gilding tools, and a full reading list will be provided on registration for the course.

The cost of the course is £1,600 per person per annum, payable in advance at the start of each year.

The proposed dates for the course in 2016 are as follows, all tuition will take place at St Peter's Anglican Church Canterbury. I have tried to make the dates as close to the start of each month as I can, wherever possible.

Session one, March 7th 8th 9th 

Session two, April 4th 5th 6th

Session three, May 1st 2nd 3rd
Session four, June 4th 5th 6th

Session five, July 2nd 3rd 4th 

Session six, October 1st 2nd 3rd

Session seven, November 5th 6th 7th

For more details and a registration form please contact;

 Peter Murphy, 6 King Edward Avenue Broadstairs Kent CT101PH .

Tel ; 01843862143 mobile 07967275425