Maybe you have already discovered the beauty, joy and tranquility that surrounds icons. I was touched by the lure of the icons many years ago, while visiting the sisters of The Benedictines of Mount Olivet in their house, Villa Linda, in the hills above Florence, Italy. The discovery of this art form led me to their mother-house, Regina Pacis at Schotenhof, Belgium. The sisters taught me their painting fundamentals and I have painted icons ever since.
After my initial training in the Benedictine ‘Regina Pacis’ convent in Belgium and through many years painting icons, I discovered a small group of iconographers living in Brisbane, Australia. I immediately joined the group under the tutorship of Kaya Brola, a Finnish teacher (now deceased). Tutorship was carried on by Brother William Lawrence, a wonderful and generous painter and teacher. My style has changed little over the years but is influenced by the beauty and simplicity of Brother William’s style. My work reflects some of the joie de vivre of my own life, especially now that I am able to devote almost all my waking hours to what I love best - painting!
Other than iconography, my journey has been as a student at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera in Milan and as a designer (through East Sydney Technical College) to the social sciences. I have a Bachelor of Social Science degree and a Masters degree in Sustainable Heritage Development and Management from the Australian National University. I feel that everything I have learned and experienced through my rich family, work and study life, has contributed to my style of iconography.
To mark the first anniversary of our son, Angus', death we asked Valerie to paint an icon of the Baptism of Christ in his memory that we could present to our local church. We were very happy with the end result and saw it is a fitting gesture of thanks to all the people who had prayed for our family at a very difficult time. It hangs close to the altar and it helps me reflect on my son's life whenever I am at mass. Valerie has a great gift and my wife and I were very grateful that she was prepared to share that gift with us. We found Valerie to be a wonderful person to work with and we very much hope that more people will come to appreciate her art.
I was thrilled to come upon Abbey Icons during an internet search for icon images of the Prophet Jonah. I was instantly attracted to the traditional beauty and contemporary brilliance of color in these icons. I treasure this icon and am always so pleased by others who see it and admire it. I'm glad that the world has gotten smaller with the internet and that Valerie's great work is so readily available from around the world.
Thomas Krieg, Wisconsin, USA (March 2014)
I have known and been painting with Valerie and ‘The Icon Painters of Brisbane’ since 2004.
Valerie’s icons are painted in the traditional manner using egg tempera on gesso coated boards. Her icons use traditional Christian iconography and represent Jesus, The Mother of God and Saints who are significant in her life. Always drawn to icons, Valerie has been painting throughout her life, studying at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera in Milan and with Benedictine nuns in Belgium. She is a valued member of The Icon Painters of Brisbane who meet regularly under the tutorship of iconographer, Brother William Lawrence.
Valerie is a true artist with a strong sense of colour which she uses freely, occasionally deviating from the expected, but always in a spiritual manner. Each icon is painted with prayer in mind to link the viewer with Saints who will intercede on their behalf. Her icons display a delightful naivety which is not only appealing but also contributes to their aura of ‘other worldliness’. Her living room is her studio and shrine, and icons find a place on her ‘spiritual wall’ providing a wonderfully calm environment for her creative life.
Christene Drewe, Art Librarian
Valerie's exquisite paintings convey her dedication, technical ability and creative prowess to the tradition of 'Icons'.
V. A. Flipse
Valerie has devoted most of her adult life to perfecting the painting of icons. This is because they, and the writings attached to her subjects, mean so much to her. Her icons are beautiful and decorative for those who look no further than that; but they are also replete with profound significance, moral beliefs and deep wisdom.