Ian Knowles is an artist and director of the Bethlehem Icon Centre, where he trains students in the art of creating or ‘writing’ icons. ‘Icons are a bit like writing the Gospels, but in paint, enabling heaven to break through.’ he says. For him they have an immediate and overwhelming presence of the holy.
Most of his icons are created on wood, but his most famous icon was painted on the separation wall dividing Israel from the West Bank. He says that ‘Our Lady Who Brings Down Walls’ was created to bring hope into a hopeless situation, to bring something good into the midst of suffering and fear. It shows a pregnant, suffering Mary, offering help to those who come to her. For Ian it reflects the message of the incarnation, when Jesus was born in same town in which he now works.