Icon for a hundred years


To mark the 100th birthday of the Church of the Holy Spirit we commissioned an icon of the FEAST of PENTECOST by accomplished icon writer Patsy Fostiropoulos.

The feast of Pentecost depicts the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on the church – it marks the birthday of the world wide church and so is a particularly appropriate image for the birthday of our church. 

Icon writers never sign the icon and like to be as anonymous as possible understanding that each individual takes their place within a long tradition which they receive and pass on in turn.  So it was a delight for Patsy to come and visit our second oldest member (Pinkie Turner) and show her the prepared base and talk about the process.

Properly made an icon can last for a thousand years and will bear witness to the worshipping community here in Clapham long after the current community (that’s us folks) are dead and gone.

Making an icon takes many months. Our icon started life back in April with the preparation of the jointed limewood board.  The wood has been seasoned for a couple of decades before it is used. 

The back of the board and the oak wedges are then are hammered in to hold the board flat and prevent it bowing with age. 

The board is then coated with 10 coats of gesso made of ground chalk

Once ready the pigment is applied slowly, slowly layer by layer.  This stage takes about 3 months after which the icon must dry for another 3 months before being varnished with substance made from rabbit skins!

Only natural products go into making an icon.  The whole of the create world is represented (vegetation represented in the wood, the sea and all its creatures represented by the chalk gesso, the earth represented in the natural mineral pigments and finally the animal world in the varnish).  All these come together in an object which will enable us to better understand and experience God the creator who made all things. 

The finished icon was laid on the altar in dedication at the close of our anniversary year, Sunday 26th January 2014, and dedicated for use at a special Eucharist presided over by Bishop Christopher, Bishop of Southwark.

We are still looking for funding to pay for the specially made wooden stand on which it will rest.  If you are able to contribute please consider a donation using this Gift Aid form or you can make a single donation here.