Katherine Sanders: from Academic to Iconographer

I was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. Growing up, I felt a deep need to find meaning and purpose in life. I was baptised into the Orthodox Church in 1996, while studying for an MA (Hons) in Religious Studies at the University of Edinburgh. I focused on the Hebrew Bible and Ancient Near East, learning Biblical Hebrew and Ugaritic cuneiform along with studying world religious traditions. I completed my Ph.D. in Bronze Age Syrian Mythology, studying the texts discussing the Ugaritic deity Ba’al and his mythology, under the supervision of Professor Emeritus Nicolas Wyatt, at the University of Edinburgh.

My iconography – training and practice

After studying iconography with Aidan Hart for ten years, His Eminence Archbishop Gregorios of Thyateira and Great Britain formally blessed me to work as an iconographer, faithful to the Orthodox Church and its Traditions. My focus is on an invigorated, authentic and yet dynamic approach to iconography, using the ancient proplasmos and membrane techniques as appropriate to the subject.

My goal is to present Christ and His Saints as transfigured and transformed but fully human, so we may be drawn towards our own ‘theosis’ (union with God) and understanding of the Creation’s role in our fulfilment of a truly God-centred life. I work in traditional egg tempera, using genuine gold leaf and pigments from precious stones and the very Earth around us. I have recently begun to paint a broader range of subjects inspired by my mentor Irina Gorbunova-Lomax, although Covid has halted ongoing CPD for now. I am also developing a new practice in digital art, using the power of an iPad – although I don’t think these will ever replace my love for a real brush and pigment.

When not painting…

An experienced singer in choirs of both Slavonic and Greek Byzantine style, my daily involvement with the Church informs both my work as an iconographer and our family life. A mother of one, we have a small Greek rescue dog. When not painting or mothering, I can usually be found in our garden, growing vegetables and listening to birds, and I love knitting when it is too dark or cold to garden.