Exhibitions of icon paintings

An exhibition of paintings by Sr Irene Gibson, icons at the gallery of the Clew Bay Hotel, Westport will run until November 30. Originally from Dublin, Sr Irene spent 16 years living a prayerful and contemplative life in her hermitage in Drummin, Westport. It was during this time that Irene completed this body of work consisting of religious icons.

These meticulous panels are worked in the manner of the traditional Orthodox Church, using the methods of preparation and fresco style of painting which has remained unchanged over the centuries. In the icons of eastern orthodoxy, and of the early medieval west, very little room is made for artistic licence. Almost everything within the image has a symbolic aspect. Christ, the saints, and the angels all have halos. Angels have wings because they are messengers. Figures have consistent facial appearances, hold attributes personal to them, and use a few conventional poses.

Colour too plays an important role. Gold represents the radiance of heaven; red, divine life. Blue is the colour of human life, white is the un-created essence of God, only used for the resurrection and transfiguration of Christ. If you look at icons of Jesus and Mary: Jesus wears a red undergarment with a blue outer garment (God becomes human ) and Mary; wears a blue undergarment with a red over garment (human become like God ). Letters are symbols too. Most icons incorporate some calligraphic text naming the person or event depicted. Even this is often presented in a stylised manner. For further information contact the Clew Bay Hotel on 098 28088.

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