Inside the gallery of icon painter Margarita Dunn. See this very unusual craft first hand.
Margarita’s Fine Art & Jewellery is housed in a charming 16th century mansion in the Toponas district of Chania. The gallery is captivating and as you enter you will smell the infusion of basil and jasmine and come across a myriad of fine art – paintings, mosaics, ceramics, and a tastefully displayed collection of hand-made jewellery.
Margarita Kerdela has been living in Crete since 1986. Her maternal Cretan heritage drew her to Crete but it was her love for art along with her Greek Orthodox religious background that influenced her to delve into the world of icon painting. She and her husband opened their gallery in the Old Town of Chania in 2004. Inside the shop Margarita maintains an icon workshop where she creates Byzantine Icons using panels of wood which she preps with gesso, then applies 24k gold leaf and thereupon paints her religious, and also non-religious, images using egg temperas – the very Old School traditional method that artists have used since the 4th century. Her original work is not to be confused with the manufactured icons that you see in most of the shops.
Margarita learnt this process of Icon making at a local iconography school in Chania and also took in extra hours at the St John Monastery on the Akrotiri Peninsula near Chania. Interested visitors are welcome to enjoy a vivid explanation on the protocol of making a traditional Cretan school Byzantine icon using only natural materials.
What started as a spiritual art practice for Margarita took on a life of its own and blossomed within her gallery. Margarita has been enriching visitors with knowledge of how icons are created and the symbolisms within each icon piece. The time taken for each icon varies from a few weeks to a few months. Margarita has a display of pieces on the walls of her studio, along with icons in progress at various stages.
Families should know
Margarita most often takes commission orders which she then carries out during the quieter, cooler winter months which are well suited for icon painting