Madonna Enthroned

Jacq Irish

Artist statement

I was first drawn to The Prince’s Foundation School of Traditional Art after having undertaken an Icon Painting Course with Dr Irina Bradley. I got talking to Lucy Morrish, the assistant and a friend of mine from our days at The Slade School of Fine Art, and Magdalena Ganestam, then at The School of Traditional Arts. This led me to investigate further my interest in Icons. I wanted to know how they were made. It was a new departure for me as I usually painted from observation in the Euan Uglow system of measurement and proportion. But the icons resounded well with my faith as a Roman Catholic, and by good Grace, I got a place on the Masters programme at the School. I would venture to say that all of the courses on this M.A. have inspired me one way or another, in particular, the Painting Courses. Persian Miniature, Indian Miniature and especially Icon Painting. It has been inspiring to learn the Traditional Techniques and materials. The focus on Geometry has been invaluable and underpins everything.

The structured 1st year gives way to the self-directed 2nd and we undertake our own projects.

When Father Kevin, my Priest, learned I was doing this Course, he commissioned me to make a large painting for the entrance of our Church, “Our Lady Star of the Sea “. Architectural design as Gothic Revival from the Victorian Era by August Welby Northmore Pugin and Edward Wardell. The main theme of my project is Stella Maris, ‘Our Lady Star of the Sea’, an ancient title for Our Heavenly Mother, which was very popular during the Middle Ages.

As a starting point, I have been looking at the art of the International Gothic Style, which chimes in well with my love of Fra Angelico, as well as the Western Tradition of Art from the 1200s to the 1400s. It gave me a great opportunity to spend some time wandering around the Sainsbury Wing of The National Gallery in London.

What I have found during this painting process is that many of the Painting Traditions I have learned here and beforehand are creeping into my work. It’s a mix of styles all at once. Icon Painting meets Chiascuro of the Old Masters meets the William Coldstream System of measurement and proportion. I’m trying to bring this into a coherent whole: exciting and challenging.

There’s been a remembering of myself and a return to the beginning, particularly in the subject of the Sea. I am painting Seascapes again. It feels like I have gone full circle.

I’m attempting to snatch a glimpse of Beauty. I want to create something beautiful.


Jacq Irish Headshot

I am a figurative painter using a fusion of techniques and mediums. My practice usually consists of working from observation using a loose interpretation of the William Coldstream System of measurement and proportion, which I learned at The Slade School, under Euan Uglow.

Primarily Oil on Canvas.

However, my love of Byzantine Icons drew me to the Prince's School of Arts, where I have learned some Icon painting technique, using different mediums, such as Egg Tempera.

Which is why I call this body of M.A. work a fusion of styles. I am mixing Oil and Egg Tempera, and drawing on Icon Painting and Slade School Traditions.

I'm hoping to create something beautiful.



Instagram @Jacqirishartist

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