Workshops – detailed information

This page contains detailed information about the May 2017 workshop in Shropshire, UK.

Location:

Walcot Hall, Lydbury North, Shropshire, SY9 8AZ, U.K. The Hall is remote and set among beautiful countryside, which is why I recommend staying on site. If you are travelling by car, it is at least a forty minute drive from Shrewsbury.

Teaching:

The simplest way for everyone to learn the practical techniques which you can then use on other icons, is for everyone to use the same icon. Katherine has chosen an icon which will be emailed out to you on final payment of the course fee. This means that we can all focus on technique and more individual time is available for everyone, rather than having some people working on inappropriately complicated icons or poor reproductions which will hinder your development, rather than taking your skills up a level (or three).

We will study the ‘membrane’ technique (used by Fr Zenon amongst others), as well as the more widely known ‘proplasmos’ style. After demonstrating a stage of painting and taking questions, Katherine will come round each student and there is plenty of individual tuition and support. New for this year are study sheets and other aids to help students make the most of their time together.

Daily Routine:

The workshop begins at 9:30am on Monday morning with students gathering for morning coffee, introductions and a short slideshow about iconography from Katherine. After a short prayer in the studio, we set up everyone’s desks and before lunch begin to work.

Typical day’s format, Tuesday to Thursday:

  • 9am: Each day begins with prayers, a word or two on Orthodox iconography,  then students gather to watch a stage of painting, as Katherine explains how to assess our drawings, transfer them onto boards and then paint.
  • 10:30: morning coffee and biscuits, an opportunity to stretch our legs for 15 minutes. We return to the studio for the next demonstration or individual attention.
  • 1pm: delicious lunch, with coffee until 2pm.
  • 2-5pm: more teaching, going by the pace of majority of students. Each person will have plenty of time for questions and support.
  • After 5pm: students may continue to work by themselves, prepare their evening meal with their own supplies or visit a local restaurant in the village of Bishop’s Castle 2-3 miles away (depending on route), or walk in the grounds and arboretum to relax and reflect upon the day’s work and teachings. There is a small grocery shop in Lydbury North two minutes from the end of Walcot Hall drive for supplies.

This timetable is a general one: on Monday we begin work after coffee and on Friday we must pack up the studio and our rooms before lunchtime, which is at 12:30 to allow Walcot staff to prepare for the next guests.

Materials:

An average price for materials would be £30-60, depending on quality and quantity of pigment and number of brushes, while the board cost varies depending on size. Katherine will bring along sandpaper and blocks for those unable to sand their boards in advance and will demonstrate how best to do this without damaging the gesso. There will be a couple of full aprons provided as this is dusty work but feel free to bring your own. Alternatively, aprons are available from the Shop page from November. If you wish to purchase the kit, please return the form emailed along with your registration documents and the items will be brought along for you in May.

Is this course for you?

This course is aimed at beginners in iconography, although it will be definitely be challenging enough for those with more experience. Katherine will email you the icon that everyone works on when the final payment of the course is made if you have not booked in full already, along with a list of materials required and a form for purchasing brushes, pigments etc. Drawing the icon before the course begins at the exact size of your board will be essential but help will be given adjusting these before we begin painting, so please do not feel intimidated by having to draw. It is unlikely beginners will complete their icon within five days, but ongoing support is provided by email and the skills you learn can be used in any icon in future. One to one lessons for those who wish to see Katherine at her studio in Edinburgh can be arranged (please email for further details).

Do I have to be an Orthodox Christian?

No. The majority of students in years past have been members of the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of England, the Episcopalian Church, other denominations or even none at all. As other churches rediscover their heritage, which often included religious images or iconography, this is to be rejoiced in. However, the theology of iconography taught, the prayers used and the spirituality which underlies Katherine’s practice is Orthodox and she has been a member of the Orthodox Community of St Andrew in Edinburgh for the last twenty years, so respect and openness to the Orthodox tradition is desirable.

Accommodation

The course offers self-catering accommodation at Walcot Hall. Participants are given their own bedroom in one of the Walcot apartments. Each apartment has two to three bedrooms and its own kitchen and a bathroom or two. Accommodation is booked through the course and not directly with Walcot Hall. The fee includes bed linen and towels, and the food supplies for you to make your own breakfast. Participants will need to arrange their own evening meals.  Students are able to cook their own evening meals using their own grocery supplies in the well-equipped kitchens of the flats at Walcot Hall, walk down to the nearby village pub or travel to the neighbouring village of Bishop’s Castle (2.5-3 miles depending on route), where there are many restaurants and quality pubs offering evening meals.

The course accommodation is available from 9.30 am Monday until 1.00 pm Friday. Often a room is available at Walcot Hall for the Sunday night before the course (though not Friday night), but you will have to contact the office and arrange this yourself (01588 680570).

Alternatively, If you need accommodation for Sunday or Friday nights, you can usually get rooms at the following local places or guest houses in Bishop’s Castle, the nearest village.