To the average admirer, creating a piece of religious art may seem as if it is all about achieving the style, the colours and maybe even a beautiful frame to display it well but for Friar Ignatius Hickson it is much more.

Having fallen in love with the art of religious icons many years ago, Ignatius revels in "writing " these beautiful pieces.

"When you are making an Icon, you are not just drawing or painting an image. You are in a praying situation so it is as if you are writing," Ignatius said. "It is a meditation for me."

Since beginning icon writing, he has created numerous Icons for himself and even several commissions for various churches around Australia. His passion for the art led him to travel to Scotland in 2008 to study the ancient style in greater depth.

"It is very detailed work. There are many steps involved from preparing the board, using the right paints and getting the right type of brushes," he said.



While producing the art works is generally a solo experience, Ignatius has extended this ministry to teaching students the art of Iconography.

"People from all walks of life attend my classes. Some are from a Greek Orthodox background, others are parishioners and some are just locals," he said.

"Icons should really be painted with a special pigment - but we found that the cockroaches were attracted to it and would eat it off. So the students use regular paint. But we do use real gold-leaf which is just beautiful."

Ignatius runs these classes from his "studio" at St Paschal Friary, Box Hill, and occasionally takes students on field trips to see the Icons displayed in churches and at exhibitions.

"I love this work and love teaching it to others and I will keep on creating Icons for as long as a I can."