"And all who believed were together and had all things in common." Acts 2
The Studio is only now just beginning to take shape, as some of those who have been studying at the BIC over the past two years begin to contribute to collaborative projects.
In time it is hoped that some of the students will gain the confidence and ability to take the lead on collaborative projects themselves.
The BIC centre provides dedicated quiet space where iconographers can work free of the stress of cramped conditions or the vulnerabilities of working alone. We also share expensive tools and work together in getting jobs completed on time and to the highest standards.
Craftsmen not Factories
The Studio is a working environment for the making of icons for sale, the proceeds of which go to the artists concerned, with just 20% going to the BIC.
Through learning together and working collaboratively, in an environment rooted in the Gospel and Bethlehem's place in it,we are forging a dynamic community of iconographers able to withstand the pressures of the world around them and at the same time to create icons to a world class standard, something Bethlehemites as a whole can be proud of and adding to the City's reputation as a place of world-wide renown.
As students learn and master skills, so they begin to participate in actual icon making projects, learning by seeing and doing much as the apprentices once did in the artist's studio.
Icons are not simply churned out as though it were a factory, but each icon is normally made by commission from a client and made lovingly by hand. This way each icon is crafted with prayerful attention to the donor and the person or situation it is intended for. Artistically it is attentive to the visual impact it will have and its intended use, for example as a small home icon or part of a larger church schema.
We use only the highest quality of materials, and where at all possible use natural resources attentive to ecology. Natural pigments, egg tempera without additives, wood, chalk powder are all products from nature which the iconographer weaves into a hymn of praise to God our Creator.
Faith, Solidarity and Justice
The client and the artist are encouraged to work together to produce a work of sublime spiritual beauty, rooted deeply in the Church's Tradition but also in the contemporary context it is intended for. This quality of attention means that the client can be absolutely certain as to the genuine nature of the icon he receives, and of the spiritual process undertaken. It also helps to cut out the various layers of 'entrepreneurs' who all too often don't just facilitate a sale but take advantage of their position, often times leaving the iconographer with just 10% of the final selling price, leaving the iconographer with no choice but to work hurriedly and with the cheapest materials he can find.
Also, because of the Occupation there is a great difficulty in obtaining the quality of tools and materials needed to make work of the highest standard, and for most of our students access to Israel and its resources is rendered impossible for most if not all of the year because they lack the required permit to enter. By working collaboratively we limit the negative impact which these restrictions and frustrations would otherwise have.
Having a team of iconographers means that we can consider travelling to locations abroad and undertaking demanding projects. Summer 2016 has been a success by doing two icons in Lichfield Cathedral, UK with three of our students and our tutor Ian Knowles. In the summer of 2018 we will be there again to finish the third icon.