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№75/7 (4946) Июль 2016 July 2016 Russian/English

Russkaya Mysl Since 1880

The magazine was founded in 1880 www.RussianMind.com

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EDITOR’S LETTER

RUSSIAN MIND

FAMILY, LOVE AND FAITHFULNESS

No75/7(4946), JULY 2016

HEAD OF EDITORIAL BOARD Victor Loupan EDITORIAL BOARD Anatoly Adamishin Rene Guerra Alexander Troubetskoy Dmitry Shakhovskoy Peter Sheremetev Sergey Yastrzhembsky EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR David Draier

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Russian addition

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, is not easily angered, it keeps no account of wrongs. Love takes no pleasure in evil, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. These famous words by the Apostle Paul describe well the core idea of All-Russian Day of Family, Love and Faithfulness. It has been celebrated on 8 July since 2008, which is the Day of Saint Peter and Saint Fevronia, the patron saints for Christian marriage and family. Dmitry Likhachov, a Soviet and Russian academic, wrote the following words about these little-known patrons saints: “Maiden Fevronia is wise in folk wisdom. She asks wise riddles, and competently deals with the slings and arrows of life without ruffle or excitement. She does not object to enemies; she does not revile them with a blunt lesson, but uses alle-

gory to teach them a gentle lesson, and her opponents understand their mistakes by themselves. She works miracles: she turns fragile twigs prepared for the open fire into a large tree within a night. She is a true force of nature. Bits of bread in her palm turn to sweet-smelling frankincense seeds. Duke Peter had tried to abandon her only once – early on in their relationship when he decided to avoid marriage in defiance of his promise to her. However, upon the first lesson taught to him by Fevronia, he heeded each and every piece of her advice forever after. He got married to her, they agreed well, and their love even survived death.” Family, love and faithfulness are very traditional, but old-fashioned and illiberal values. Nowadays they lyricize insolence, unconventional sex, “free love” which was earlier recognized as depravity. To again call upon the words of the Apostle Paul: “Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be restrained; where there is knowledge, it will be dismissed. (…) And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love; but the greatest of these is love.” Love is above all. There is no family or faithfulness without love. Happy Day of Family, Love and Fidelity to you, our dear readers! Victor Loupan

MANAGING DIRECTOR Anastasia Mashkina am@russianmind.com EXECUTIVE EDITOR Elizabeth Yurieva editor@russianmind.com PRODUCTION EDITOR Karina Enfenjyan karina@russianmind.com CONTRIBUTORS Andrey Babiyan, Olga Dementieva, Teo Guriely, Maria Harwood, Vyacheslav Katamidze, Ekaterina Kazanskaia, Irene Kukota, Natalia Lang, Alexander Lopuhin, Kelsey Murry, Neonilla Pasichnik, Julia Pliauksta, Hochbar Ramazanov, Lily Sergeeva DESIGN: Yuri Nor design@russianmind.com ADVERTISEMENT: sales@russianmind.com DISTRIBUTION: distribution@russianmind.com SUBSCRIBTION subscription@russianmind.com ADDRESS: 48 Langham Street W1W 7AY, London, United Kingdom Tel: +44 (0) 203 205 0042 E-mail: info@russianmind.com Editors are not responsible for the accuracy of the information published in news reports, promotional materials and advertisements. Editors do not have the ability to enter into correspondence and do not return manuscripts and illustrations. Editors do not provide background information. Reproduction of any materials from the magazine “Russian Mind” is impossible without the permission of the editorial board. Cases of the absence of sale of the magazine “Russian Mind”, violations of the terms of delivery and other shortcomings in our work may be reported on +44 (0) 203 205 0042 or send on e-mail: info@russianmind.com Circulation: 27 000 copies.

Russian Mind, July 2016

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EUROPE

EUROPE

LET’S WAIT & SEE! Victor Loupan, Head of the Editorial Board

If Europe fails to review its development ideas, then power in different countries will be taken by anti-EU parties pushing for referendums similar to Britain’s one

H

aving voted on 23 June referendum to leave the European Union, British voters evaluated the declaration of the will of the people to be the highest democratic value. Of course, they had been in the knowledge of the critical nature of the referendum initiated by David Cameron, a short-sighted Prime Minister, solely on the basis of the politician’s considerations arising from the internal situation within the Conservative Party. British Tories are deeply separated in their perception of the EU, European integration, and European Utopia at large. But British provincial voters, who mainly have won this referendum, possibly could not expect the truly exotic reaction demonstrated by the political establishment both in Brussels and in other European capitals. This is because the EU is actually based on the “irreversibility and irretrievability” doctrine. From this point of view, the EU is anything like the USSR which ideologists also supposed the things to stay irreversible and irretrievable. But we know how poor the end

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of the Soviet experience was. The European experience is expected to come to the same end, however, from a historical point of view it differs a lot from the Soviet one – primarily, due to its democratic and pluralistic nature. But, in terms of ideology, these two historical experiments are very similar to each other due to their extreme ideologization. An ideologization is commonly based on denial of reality, whether it be political, historical, human, or economic reality, that leads to a new wave of totalitarianism called

by Alexander Zinoviev as the “totalitarian democracy”, or the “democratic totalitarianism”. A real democracy is based on the idea that the citizens not only have the rights but also have the opportunities to use them. EU citizens have a lot of rights but few opportunities to use them. First of all, it comes from the fact that the EU legislation prevails over the legislation of EU members. It leads to a secondary role of the national sovereignty. But if the sovereignty plays a secondary role, then a democracy will also be

of secondary importance, as the sovereignty is an expression of the will of the people. The democracy may be national only. It cannot be international, and this is critical. Demos kratos means “the power of the people”. People, or nation, is the principal core that is needed for this power to be realized. There are no “international nations”. International community is the community consisting of various nations, speaking different languages, having different history and different political traditions. A furious ambition of the existing EU authorities and ideologists to unify everything resulted in Euroscepticism, Europhobia and, at the end, Brexit. In the very early morning on 24 June, upon knowledge of the fact that British voters had in a convincing manner voted to leave the European Union, both

economical and political panic appeared in other European capitals. The expression of will of the UK people was perceived by the establishment like a prediction on future similar referendums in some other member countries that might lead to the end of the European Union. But the EU collapse shall mean the collapse of the entire world system established by the Americans and their beneficiaries upon the Soviet Union’s and the entire Eastern bloc’s dissolution. Nowadays a wrong essence of that system became notorious, but no one desires it to be collapsed, as even Russia opposing that system is still dependent on it. Both Russia and China need Europe to stay stable and well-situated. As a result, having expressed the will in a democratic manner, the British people stayed alone. The referendum summation has

sent a fateful signal to observers, something like a warning bell denouncing a terrifying collapse which may bring unpredictable consequences. It is an irrational and tortuous panic. Deep sociological research conducted by American universities and international independent research institutions had provided long before that a number of unsatisfied people in all EU members increased. For example, the percentage of Eurosceptics and Europhobs in France is much higher than in the UK. The same situation is in the Netherlands, Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, and Poland. And there is nothing to say about Greece, Spain, Italy, and Portugal whose populations are drifting into poverty as a result of the dogmatic introduction of the Euro as a unified currency. Ultimately, Germany is the Русская мысль – июль 2016

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EUROPE

EUROPE them to argue, as the economical status of the UK people had changed for the worse in the last 20 years. So, the only argument the detractors used to Remain, was a bogeyman. Leave supporters also made a negative campaign. It was simply based on claims and blames, but not on “bogeyman” stories in contrast with their opponents. Paradoxically, both parties were right. But they all missed the core essence which was the political, I would even say, revolutionary, nature of the event which happened on 23 June. Political disruption always involves economical consequences which are continuous and variable. It is principally pointless to warn about them, because politics prevail over economics in democracy. Stumpers

only state not suffering from demagogical introduction of a common and sole European currency. Honestly speaking, today no one knows the future. Some experts in Brussels say, a discussion on Brexit will be at a dead-end soon and the UK will stay the EU member. Conceptually, the EU Treaty had established that a discussion of withdrawal of a specific state from the EU may not exceed a two year period following the moment of declaration of its will. It is stipulated by paragraph 50. The UK had not expressed such a will yet, but Prime Minister Cameron declared that he would transfer such a burden to his successor, a new Prime Minister and a Conservative leader, who would be promoted by the party congress this October. Before that, Cameron plans to continue in power and “prepare the country for the coming hard transition period”.

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Well-recognized experts in some countries assert that the prospective withdrawal of the UK from the European Union is not so bad due to the fact that the United Kingdom had not signed the Schengen Agreement. But what is more important, the Kingdom is not a part of the euro region. Pound sterling has always been the British currency, but not Euro. Actually, British membership in the European Union is mostly oriented on business and maybe even commerce, as contrasted with France, Germany, or Italy. The EU never attracted the UK people in terms of politics. Many of them even suppose that the idea of European integration comes up against the principles of globalism and global economy. As opposed to other European nations living in advanced countries, the UK people reject intraEuropean migration even harder than migration from Asia or Africa. They cannot leave behind the fact

and pen pushers in Brussels as well as their supporters in various European administrative offices have forgotten it long, long ago. Now they stand the racket for their inexcusable mindedness. Recovery of nations may really bring dire consequences. It has something spontaneous in its nature. It produces new leaders, new political concepts. It may lead to violence and bloodshed, but no one can prevent it. Recovery of nations is an aftermath of, or reaction to, the intolerable situation. In this context, an intolerable factor is not the economic downfall – Europeans still have a better status in comparison with other regions, – but despisal experienced by the European beau monde towards their own peoples voting for a long

time for undefined candidates and for undefined purposes. “All was confusion in the house of the Oblonskys”, – Lev Tolstoy wrote in his “Anna Karenina”. The same confusion is observed here: a right-wing party is other than a right-wing party, a left-wing party is other than a left-wing party, and politics is other than politics. Such an intolerable sense of desperation and lack of options led to Brexit. Let’s wait and see! If Europe fails to review its development ideas cardinally, then power in different countries will be taken by straightly anti-EU parties pushing for referendums similar to Britain’s, that will lead to the cataclysmic implosion of the entire system. Only blind people may not see the prerevolutionary nature of the current European events.

that more than two million migrants from Poland and other states of Eastern Europe legally moved to the Kingdom just within one year period. The main difficulty was they could not protest against this due to various European agreements signed by the British government. It is also important to know, that the population of the UK is similar to France (nearly 65 million people). But France’s territory is three times larger than the UK territory. This is why such huge migration makes sense. Campaigns held by Brexit supporters and detractors prior to the voting on a referendum can be characterized as too lightweight. The detractors had continuously warned the supporters about “dire consequences”, not recognizing that a negative campaign, first of all, emphasized the incompetence of the involved persons to support their own idea with positive arguments. Actually, it was hard for Русская мысль – июль 2016

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PERSON

LADY CLEMENTINE CHURCHILL’S RUSSIA FUND By: Vyacheslav Katamidze

Celia Sandys: “Clementine was a strong-willed woman: if she could believe in something, then she could achieve her goal”

T

his year, we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Red Cross Aid to Russia Fund launched in the first months of the Great Patriotic War by Lady Clementine Churchill, wife of Britain’s greatest statesman Sir Winston Churchill. The Fund existed until 1946, and provided great support to the Soviet people by shipping over medications, medical equipment, and even food. In March of 1945, Clementine Churchill was invited to the Soviet Union by the Soviet Red Cross, whereupon she visited Stalingrad, Leningrad, Rostov-on-Don, Kursk, Yalta, and various other cities. She also came to Moscow to receive the Order of the Red Banner of Labour. Clementine celebrated Victory Day here and broadcast over Moscow radio a “Message from Mr. Winston Churchill to Marshal Stalin”. A Russian Mind news writer met with Celia Sandys, granddaughter of Winston and Clementine Churchill and an internationally recognized author and newsperson, to ask her some questions about the upcoming anniversary of the war.

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A commemorative plaque for Clementine Churchill in Rostov-on-Don

Celia Sandys

– As you know, in many circumstances a wife sees eye to eye with her husband. At one time, Winston Churchill opposed Soviet Russia. However, during World War II he demonstrated a friendship and alliance that contributed greatly to our common victory. Then after the war’s end, he delivered his famous Iron Curtain Speech in Fulton which led to a new struggle. So my question is, did Lady Clementine also change her opinion accordingly?

– Of course not. She was always liberal-minded. She definitely lived among conservatives and accepted such an environment, however she was a liberally-oriented woman. That did not mean that she could demonstrate against her husband or be in disagreement with him regarding the Iron Curtain. She did not support socialism, but without a doubt she adhered to liberalism. By the way, Sir Winston never took cues from any party’s policy; he did as he thought fit in the moment.

– The time when Lady Clementine established her Fund (in the first months of the Great Patriotic War) was very interesting in terms of public opinion throughout the United Kingdom, with Britains generally supporting our people in their struggle against fascism. I have read a lot of articles on this matter, both in conservative and liberal media. Did the Fund arise as a result of such public opinion or was it due to the secret workings of the human heart, if we may use a cliché? Russian Mind, July 2016

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PERSON – I think, there were two reasons but not just one. Of course, she was the wife of the Prime Minister and every previous event of her life was in every way related to his actions. I suppose that, in the establishment of the Fund, Clementine worked to play her own independent role in the development of events. But it is also apparent that she was genuinely dismayed at the state of affairs in Russian territory. It seemed to her that the best thing she could do at the moment was to make a contribution to help the Russian people through the

PERSON establishment of such a Fund. And she had managed to do a lot within a very short period of time. She collected plenty of money, involving many people in the process. She proved herself to be a very helpful person.

– When someone assumes such a mighty task, he should truly believe in receiving overall support in that endeavor. She managed to raise £340,000 within 11 days – today it would be equivalent to nearly 18 million pounds. It was an unprecedented success! And it was only the

beginning. How could she have been so sure of her success? – Clementine was a strongwilled woman: if she could believe in something, then she could achieve her goal. My grandfather was definitely a lucky man as strong-willed women always stood by his side. Initially, they were his mother and a nurse, who both had a determined character. Later, Clementine assumed that role. It was extremely necessary for her to be strong-willed due to the fact that she lived with my grandfather who had an unbreakable spirit!

Winston and Clementine Churchill in their youth

She could not stay indifferent to the tragedy experienced by the Russian people. And once she undertook that mission, she could not stop until she achieved success. It is important to note that my grandfather certainly did all his best to support his wife.

– Was there any specific fact compelling her to establish the Fund? Or was it done due to the combination of difficult circumstances accompanying the first period of the war?

Josef Stalin and Winston Churchill in the Livadia Palace

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Russian Mind, July 2016

– It was the whole combination of tragic events, and she mentioned some of them in her book describing the very beginning of

the Fund. She felt as if those events themselves were a call for help.

– When Lady Clementine came to the Soviet Union, she brought a lot of gifts. But what had been sent to her as a gift? – Stalin presented her with a diamond ring, and Molotov gave her a sable fur coat. The Government of the State presented her with some more valuables, including incredible works of art from the XIX – XX centuries. Hundreds of ordinary people also sent gifts to her: embroidered works, paintings, mosaics, and even dolls. A truck full of gifts! But the major honour was, of course, the Order of the Red Banner of

Labour granted by the Government of the State. It demonstrated the highest form of recognition for her aid to Russia.

– Our people remember everything. They made several nonfiction films about Clementine Churchill and her Fund, and this spring they installed a commemorative plaque devoted to the 75th anniversary of her visit to Rostov-on-Don. Are you planning to someday travel to the cities visited by your grandmother? – I am dreaming of it. I have been to Russia before, but I hope to replicate Clementine Churchill’s tour next year, and see the cities that she saw 75 years ago to feel the difference. Russian Mind, July 2016

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THE QUEEN AT 90

90

THE QUEEN AT 90

IN STYLE By: Kelsey Murry

Q

ueen Elizabeth II celebrated her birthday - as ever - in style. The date of her actual birthday, April 21st, was a more subdued affair. Although the activities were more understated, the Queen still gave her time generously. She and Prince Philip began the day with a walkabout to greet the public. Later, Her Majesty christened a commemorative plaque at the beginning of the Queen’s Walkway in Windsor, as well as lit the first beacon of a 900-beacon chain that spans Britain and even a few other countries, blazing across the United Kingdom to proclaim the day in a grand exaggeration of birthday candles. Fitting, as her official birthday cake was far too handsome to be stuck with candles. Nadiya Hussain, winner of The Great British Bake Off, spent a full week preparing the cake, which Her Majesty shared with a group of other newly-minted nonagenarians. The monarch’s day concluded in a private dinner. The first of two official birthday celebrations took place on the weekend of the 12th-15th of May 2016. Each night’s production was the same, giving more people a chance to see it in person. Tickets were quickly sold-out, and over the

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three day period, 25,000 guests were able to attend the event inside Windsor Castle grounds (along with 5000 others watching on projection screens from outside the castle). A member of the Royal Family was present each night, with the Queen herself appearing on 15th to see the closing performance. The weekend was packed with stellar feats of artistry and plenty of celebrity participation. Windsor Castle grounds came alive with festivities honoring the Queen as well as her diplomatic history.

There were musical, dance, and cultural performances featuring singers and actors from not only Britain but from around the world. Kylie Minogue, Gary Barlow, and Katherine Jenkins were some of the well-known singers to take the stage. Of course, there were hundreds of horses present. The Queen’s life and the victories of her reign were depicted through equestrian performances, while famous actors such as Dame Helen Mirren and Damien Lewis

narrated the events. There was a robust military presence in much of the production. The Queen’s Cavalry along with other military contingents made a strong show of national pride. And there was lighthearted fun to be found as well, such as that found in the antics of a pantomime horse and corgi. Dame Shirley Bassey closed the show with a performance of “Diamonds Are Forever” - better known as the James Bond theme song - followed by Happy Birthday and finally, the National Anthem. The second official weekend celebration of Her Majesty’s 90th birthday (and the unofficial celebration of the Duke of Edinburgh’s 95th birthday, which is on June 10th) took place from June 10th-12th. On the 10th was the Thanksgiving service at St. Paul’s Cathedral. Only those expressly invited were allowed to attend, however the entire service was broadcast on BBC1 for the public.

English national treasures Sir David Attenborough and Michael Bond, author of the Paddington Bear series, were in attendance. Both had the honor of participating in the service, as Sir David Attenborough read aloud for the congregation a thoughtful essay written by Bond about the passing of the last 90 years. On Saturday June 11th was the annual Trooping the Colour, which is the official yearly signifier of Her Majesty’s birthday, often colloquially called the Queen’s Birthday Parade. Like the Thanksgiving service, Trooping the Colour was also broadcast live on BBC. Traditionally, this event is when the Queen inspects the regiments of the Household Division, as well as witnesses a fly-past by the Royal Air Force. The monarch, true to her legacy, turned heads at this year’s Trooping the Colour by showing up in a bold shade of her own: a lime green dress with a hat of matching hue. This eye-catching fashion statement brought a sense of joyful enthusiasm to the entire affair, as she greeted the public on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, flanked by the reds and

whites of the more demurelyattired Royal Family. Only the charm of her grandchildren distracted the public from their cheerfully-clad Queen. The final celebration of the second official weekend of Her Majesty’s birthday was the Patron’s Lunch. The Mall - a road in St. James Park in central London - was transformed into a venue for 10,000 guests to gather for what was the most relaxed event of them all. The occasion had the air of a festival, with guests eating picnic-style at wooden tables and enjoying the abundance of various street performers. Her Majesty, dressed in a vibrant shade of magenta, along with the Duke and other members of the Royal Family, made the slow procession down the length of The Mall to a dais on the Queen Victoria Memorial from which to watch the festivities. Queen Elizabeth II’s pride in her country and her country’s pride in her was evident throughout each celebration of her 90th year. Every event was a smashing success and a fitting tribute to both the Queen herself and her long, successful reign.

Russian Mind, July 2016

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RELIGION

RELIGION What is the aim of your gallery? To promote Christian spiritual art among British art lovers, to show a sophistication of different icon painting traditions, or something else?

EVERLASTING ART OF ICONOGRAPHY

Sacred Space is not aimed at the general commercial art market, nor are we interested in showing art for art’s sake. Whatever we exhibit must have a basis in a spiritual tradition and must, especially in the case of icons, be beautiful, authentic and a true representation of the tradition they express. For this reason, the gallery’s motto is “Goodness, Truth and Beauty”, because we live in a world much deprived of these three fundamental principles, a world that revolves mostly around money and materialism. We have had in the past some modern artists who explored the sacred in their work but did not belong to any particular spiritual tradition.

By Julia Pliauksta

I

nterview with Dr Stephane Rene, a Coptic iconographer and researcher at the Royal College of Art (RCA, London, UK) by Julia Pliauksta

Dr Rene, as an iconographer and tutor of Orthodox iconography at the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts, you know much more about the Russian icon tradition than many Orthodox Russians know about the Coptic tradition, which you represent. Unfortunately, the Russian segment of the Internet doesn’t provide much information about Coptic iconography. Could you please briefly tell us about the main features of Coptic iconography, for example its. techniques, figures, materials, colours, etc? The Neo-Coptic style of iconography uses the same techniques and materials as Byzantine iconography, namely egg tempera on gesso on wood. The differences are mostly stylistic, but the content is similar. The figures should be designed according to a specific canon of proportion taught by the school’s founder, Dr Isaac Fanous. The symbolism of colours differs somewhat from Byzantine iconography; Christ’s outer garment for instance is always red, symbolic of His blood, His human nature, and

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the flesh and blood He took from the Theotokos. His inner garment is always white, representing His divine nature. Christ possesses a dual nature of divinity and humanity according to the Coptic Theotokia. Green, when used to colour a facial profile, is strictly to depict those who have no relationship with God and have turned away from Him. This is the case with Judas in the icon of the Last Supper or that of the Kiss at Gethsemane. Satan and his associates, demons and dragons, are all represented in green. This rule applies to heretics, heretics like Arius, or evil rulers like Decius or Julian the Apostate. It should be noted however, that the vast majority of Coptic ‘iconographers’ do not subscribe to the Neo-Coptic canon established by Dr Fanous, but mostly follow their own whims, as can be seen on social media. This is a cause for concern for the future development of Coptic iconography. Unlike the Eastern Orthodox church, who fostered and preserved iconography throughout its history, the Oriental Orthodox churches didn’t manage so well in this regard, apart from the Ethiopian Orthodox Church that, although not as vibrantly alive as it was in the past, still has a distinctive living tradition. The Coptic Church contended with

relentless persecution by Islam beginning in 642 A.D. In spite of this, the Coptic iconographic tradition persisted until the 19th century when Catholic and Protestant missionaries came to Egypt. Their arrival contributed to the disappearance of Coptic iconography during the late 18th and early 19th centuries, as it was replaced by Italian Realism. The art and use of iconography was only restored by Isaac Fanous during the patriarchate of St Kyrillos VI in the early 1960’s. (For a much more detailed background, see the chapter on Contemporary Coptic Art in Coptic Civilization: Two Thousand Years Of Christianity in Egypt by Monica Ren. Editor Gawdat Gabra, published by America University Press, Cairo 2013)

In November 2015, the gallery was holding an exhibition of iconographic works from the Convent of St. Elisabeth in Belarus, which has several icon making studios. Why and how did you choose their icons for your exhibition?

You are a director of The Sacred Space gallery under the patronage of the Anglican bishop of London. What kind of works of art do you represent in The Sacred Space? Sacred Space was originally created as a platform for the contemporary sacred art of diverse world traditions. Of late, however, we concentrate mostly on Christian iconography from various Orthodox traditions.

Archangel Michael 2015 (by Rene)

People usually contact us with requests for exhibitions. We generally choose around twenty percent of applicants based on the work they submit, which we consider in line with our ethos. The Sisters of St. Elisabeth’s fulfilled our criteria, with very traditional and beautifully executed icons in the Russo-Byzantine style. The background of the artist(s) is also important, and in this case, the charitable work done by the sisters make their icons an even more significant and powerful testimony. Russian Mind, July 2016

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RELIGION

RELIGION

What other iconographers of the Russian-Byzantine school were represented in your gallery? In 2008, we exhibited Tatiana Kolibaba, an iconographer from St. Petersburg, whose work is of a classical Russian style. In 2007 and 2008, we had the honour of hosting two very successful exhibitions by Pater Iakobos, a Romanian monk iconographer from Mount Athos. In 2009, Sacred Space exhibited Aleksandras Alekseyevas, a highly talented iconographer who specialises in bronze relief icons (he is an Old Believer). Originally from Lithuania, he studied and worked in Russia for many years. After the exhibition, he started his PhD under my supervision at the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts in London and will graduate next year. We exhibited the Prosopon School of Iconology in 2011 (Moscow branch). All the contributors had studied in Russia and had specially prepared works for the exhibition. In 2012, Romanian iconographer Daniel Neculae brought his beautiful icons. In 2013, the young and very gifted Greek iconographer Fikos showed his contemporary Byzantine icons. So we have had some excellent Byzantine iconography over the last few years and hope to have more in the future.

In 1987 you were the only student who studied Christian Art in the RCA, and your research was dedicated to Coptic iconography. Dr Isaac Fanous was the only iconographer who could evaluate your work. In recent times, the number of students interested in Christian sacred art has increased. Is it a result of a rising interest in Orthodox Christianity or only in traditional art?

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Christ Pantocrator 2015 (by Rene )

Although an increasing number of people seem to be interested in iconography (especially Byzantine), interest in the proper study of it is quite marginal. As your readers will probably know, the use of icons died in the West with the advent of the Renaissance in the 15th century. The vast majority of Western Europeans consider iconography a hobby to pursue in their spare time, usually limiting it to the graphic and technical aspects. The iconology is generally not taken into account. That is not to say that there aren’t any proficient and knowledgeable iconographers from a European background, but the serious ones are very few, and most studied in Greece or Russia under masters.

You live and work in Great Britain where Christianity has very deep and profound roots. Can you say that there is any specific and unique British or Irish iconographic tradition? How can you characterise it? As already mentioned, the use of iconography stopped with the Renaissance, at which time the West’s iconographic

Christ Pantocrator 2011 Prosopon School exhibition at Sacred Space

tradition disappeared. The style of iconography in pre-Renaissance Europe was mainly Byzantine and Romanesque, as exemplified in the many surviving frescoes in Romanesque churches in France, Spain or England. Pockets of Celtic influence had been present in England and Ireland as far back as the 8th century, with an artistic expression unlike any other, as can be seen in the book of Kells or the Lindisfarne Gospels. But these had long disappeared by the time of the Renaissance.

Archangel’s face - detail from Three Youths in the Fiery Furnace 2014

British Christians perceive Orthodox tradition as an exotic one.

I do know people who are interested in reviving the EnglishRomanesque style, but I don’t think the mere copying of old works really constitutes a revival as such.

Icons are indeed making a slow come back to the Anglican and Catholic churches in England. The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, is a known iconophile and has written books on icons. The Prince of Wales is also very interested in iconography and all things Orthodox. In 2006 and 2007, he initiated a summer school in iconography at the Holy Monastery of Vatopedi on Mount Athos, which I had the privilege to attend on both occasions. The course tutor was a master from the nearby monastery of Xenophondos, with many years of experience and knowledge. It was a wonderful and invaluable experience for me to be in this very important centre of Orthodox Byzantine tradition.

Why do we see so many Byzantine and Russian icons in Anglican churches? I always thought that

You are also a member of The British association of iconographers which holds a number of icon

Do you or your colleagues have students who are interested in particular British iconography?

Flight into Egypt by Isaac Fanous

painting courses in the UK. Are they popular? Who are the students and teachers? I was made an honorary patron of the British Association of Iconographers many years ago, but am not an active member. It was started by a few interested amateurs some years ago, but the standard is slowly rising as more professional and competent people join the association.

Why do you think icons are still important for Christianity? Icons are at the centre of the Christian faith, because they reveal the mystery of the incarnation of the Word. For this reason, Christianity’s most sacred art is based on the human figure. As the face of God, the Logos is the face of mankind. This is irrefutable and a timeless truth, hence iconography is the art of eternity. Russian Mind, July 2016

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russian mind July 2016  
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