Parish of Belmont, Anglican Church Newcastle, NSW Australia

Icon of All Saints

Our brothers and sisters in faith from the St Francis Xavier, Belmont presented us with a contemporary icon of All Saints on our Feast of Title 2017.

The gift marks a bond between our two congregations, and as a sign of thanks for the use of our Church building during the period when they constructed their new Church building. We are truly blessed to have received this significant and precious gift.

Icons are clearly an art form, and the person who writes an icon is an iconographer - image writer - and they have a significant place in the Christian Tradition, and perhaps more so in the East, though broadly accepted as helpful in the West.

The first thing that is different from a painting is how you approach it. When you approach a photograph or a painting the thing we do is to look at the image and appreciate the beauty it depicts. That is also true of the icon, however that is only the start of the journey. The icon invites us to read the image writer has written. There will be many things in the icon, and what is relevant to read one day may be quite different from what we read another day.

One interesting variation from many traditional icons is that many were surrounded by a raised relief covering of metal (perhaps silver) and only parts of the whole icon visible. In this modern icon the raised relief is at the heart of the icon, reminding us of the dimensionality of God.

As Fr Gerard read the Icon as he blessed and presented it to us, he spoke of the brokenness of the world in which we are called to be saints, given life in the sacrament of baptism, and nurtured in the sacrifice of the saints. He spoke of how the image is not full, there is still room for your brokenness and mine in this image. In stark contrast in the centre of the icon is the raised relief of Christ himself, at the centre of the life of all the saints, and providing completion and wholeness to the brokenness of the image. The glimmering gold reminds us of the light Christ brings into this world.

The Orthodox sometimes speak of icons as windows of eternity. Whilst we may look at a window, and we may admire the craftsmanship of the window, in the end the window calls us to look beyond, to look through the window and see what lies beyond. Sometimes what we see beyond the window changes very little, and sometimes what we see beyond the window changes a great deal.

One of the joys of the icon is a link with our sisters and brothers in the Roman Catholic Parish in the continuity with the art that they have in their new church building.

Iconographer

The work was done by Michael Galovic, renown local artist and iconographer. It would be hard to say more of Michael - the work speaks for itself - however these words by Rod Pattenden, a graduate artist, a Co-ordinator of the Institute for Theology and Arts and the Chairman of the Blake Society for Religious Art, perhaps say it best.

“Michael Galovic offers a unique contribution to contemporary Australian Art having trained both in modern art and traditional painting in Europe. Since his arrival in Australia he has developed an impressive body of work that includes commissions for churches and private collections as well as work that seeks to bring together the Australian landscape and religious and personal identity… Michael Galovic is a careful student of tradition while exhibiting the capacity for artistic innovation and excellence. A considered craftsman and dynamic originator, his vision offers new possibilities for figuring the transcendent contemporary multicultural Australia”.

You can find more about Michael from his website: http://www.michaelgalovic.com