The Icon School was started at the library in 2002. The School's aim is to develop the members' knowledge and appreciation of traditional iconography by practical coaching in the art of writing icons. Prospective members should not view the School as offering "hobby class" projects, as iconography is essentially an exercise in spirituality. Every session commences with public prayer, and members are expected to adopt a contemplative attitude to their work.
It is an on-going School, not a once-only course, or series of courses. That is, a session is scheduled for virtually every week during the semester, with members attending as often, or as seldom, as they like; in general, most benefit is gained from regular attendance. Thus, members are of support and assistance to each other, and as experience grows in the School, older members are able to share their experience with newer members. No previous artistic skills are required; members who have never painted a picture in their lives will find that the techniques taught will enable them to write icons that they, or others, can use to enhance their spiritual lives.
The School follows the Byzantine tradition for the most part, though other traditions are discussed as opportunity presents. The method taught involves painting in the traditional egg tempera medium on wooden panels that have been prepared in the traditional manner with cloth and gesso.
The School year commences on the first week of February and closes on the second week in December. The year is divided into terms that coincide with the normal school year terms. Except for Holy Thursday, the School meets every Thursday morning in term from 10.00am to noon, and Monday evenings at 6:00pm to 8:00pm.
The normal format for the meeting includes communal prayers. These include requests for the guidance of the Holy Spirit in our work, the support of the Most Holy Mother of God and the other members of the early Church, and the blessing of the physical elements we use to portray the dwellers in the Kingdom of God.
A discussion will follow of some aspect of iconography in general, or of a particular icon, say, an icon appropriate to the Liturgical Cycle, or a particular saint's feast day.
Work on the icons varies according to the particular stage each icon has reached, but as much as is possible, is carried out in an atmosphere of quietude, calmness and reflection.