Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Martin Earle: A Catholic Master Iconographer From England

I recently received the notification of the art classes for 2020 offered by the Sacred Art Guild of Alberta (SAGA) which is based in Calgary, and a new name caught my eye. Martin Earle, who for several years was apprenticed to the Orthodox iconographer Aidan Hart, will be teaching a course in mosaic.
I went to his website and looked at the range of work he has done. His style, not surprisingly, is clearly connected to that of his teacher, Aidan, but from that starting point, he has developed his own distinctive voice too. This is a relatively naturalistic form of iconography which is intended to appeal to the modern, Western eye that might be unused to the harsher styles of, say the traditional Russian school, without straying beyond the bounds of what defines the tradition. As well as creating a mosaic, he paints and sculpts with equal ease, it seems.
Mosaic of the archangel Gabriel

Christ in Majesty, relief carving
The Episcopal coat of arms for the Diocese of Shrewsbury (incidentally the diocese the in which I grew up!)
Despite the handicap of going to a conventional art school - he is a graduate of the Royal College of Art - it seems he recognized the error of his ways and decided on a change of tack. He was apprenticed to iconographer Aidan Hart in Shropshire England in 2012. He is Catholic, and so I am keeping my fingers crossed that in the future, as his career develops, he can contribute to the reestablishment of sacred art in the Roman Church.
He is capable of large-scale and small scale works - here is a large hanging cross in a priory in Bristol in England.
And here is a triptych. It is refreshing to see that he is happy to tackle Roman saints.
The Lancastrian Martyrs and the Holy Family, Lancaster, England.
He is even prepared to create three-dimensional status, unusual for an iconographer, that one might describe as 21st-century Romanesque.
The Theotokos Hodegetria. The first prototype for this was painted by St Luke and so this is a stature derived from a two-dimensional prototype.
To find out more about him and his work you can contact him through his website, martinearle.com. If you wish to study mosaic with him, then contact Katalin Kiss, directly at SAGAWorkshops@gmail.com, for more information.

Alternatively, if you wish to go to Greece, he has been invited to run a course at Vetoussa, Lesvos (also known as Lesbos), Greece, from September 17-24. This is a six-day workshop held in a beautiful traditional mountain village. Eight days of accommodation, all materials, and lunches are included in the course fee of €680 (around £580, or $780). For more information, including details of the best ways to arrive in Lesvos, please contact the course organizer, Ann Welch, directly at ann.j.welch@gmail.com.

Martin tells me that both of these week-long workshops will be opportunities to create two mosaic studies using the finest Venetian materials, while learning about the principles of the Byzantine technique. They are particularly well suited to icon painters who want to start making mosaic work but would be accessible to anyone who wants to learn more about this ancient craft.

Martin’s courses are eligible for studio credits as part of Pontifex University’s Master of Sacred Arts.

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