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  • Writer's pictureChris Vlahonasios

Light & Colour: The life and work of Julia Bridget Hayes

By Chris Vlahonasios

Icons bring us into the presence of the Divine. With great skill and based on hundreds of years of tradition, creating an icon is not like any other piece of ‘art’. It takes someone with much talent and experience to emulate the beauty icons hold, and that’s what Julia Bridget Hayes does.

Based in Athens, Greece, Julia is one of the finest iconographers. Born in South African, she has had the very fortunate opportunity to have been taught by some of the best iconographers, including the renowned George Kordis.

As a child, Julia showed great artistic promise. An avid drawer, the human form and its movement was always of interest to her, but it was only through iconography she found fulfilment. Each icon Julia creates is a unique expression of the Church’s tradition by capturing the movement and presence of the depicted in light, line and colour. She achieves chromatic harmony by mainly using a limited tetrachrome pallete.

Julia has a very impressive resume. She studied photography for a year at the Pretoria Technikon before going to Greece in 1998 to study Theology at the Social Theology Faculty of the University of Athens on a scholarship. Upon completing her degree she returned to South Africa for two years where she worked as an iconographer and gave talks and seminars on iconography. In 2005 she returned to Greece with a scholarship and completed her master’s degree in Theology (Liturgics) in 2007 on the subject of "Baptism in the Catechisms of St Cyril of Jerusalem".

Her hand-painted icons are in churches and private collections all over the world, including: Greece, South Africa, Russia, UK, Ukraine, Finland, Belgium, Romania, Czech Republic, Australia, USA, Indonesia and Argentina.

In 2015 Julia was included in the 12th volume of the "Great Orthodox Christian Encyclopedia" ("Μεγάλη Ορθόδοξη Χριστιανική Εγκυκλοπαίδια" - Stratigikes Ekdosies). She also translates Orthodox books from Greek to English such as "Avvakum the Bearfoot" by Monk Theodoretos the Hagiorite.

Julia also studied photography at the Pretoria Technikon before embarking to Greece to study Theology. Her photography mainly captures life in the Orthodox Church. Some of her photographs have been published in the book, “Ἅγιος Δημήτριος ὁ Λουμπαρδιάρης”. Prints can be purchased through her website on RedBubble.

Julia has also been supportive of other forms of Orthodox creativity. Ikonographics has been a major sponsor of Byzanfest Film Festival 2015 and 2019. Her donation of beautiful hand-made icons have been very much appreciated and her belief in Byzanfest invaluable.

To view Julia’s work and to make commission inquiries, go to:


Theotokos Glykophilousa

St Photini

St Nicholas the Confessor of Alma Ata

St Nektarios of Aigina

St Elizabeth the New Martyr

St Dimitrios Loumpardiaris

St Mary of Egypt

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