Julia Bridget Hayes was born in South Africa and lives in Athens, Greece. She studied photography for a year at the Pretoria Technikon before coming to Greece in 1998 to study Theology at the Social Theology Faculty of the University of Athens on a scholarship. On completing her degree she returned to South Africa for two years where she worked as an iconographer and gave talks and seminars on the theology of the icon. She also taught catechism at the Catechetical School of Alexandria of the Archdiocese of Johannesburg and Pretoria as well as with youth in her parish of St Nicholas of Japan and people preparing for baptism. 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" .
From a young age she would draw and paint and was particularly interested in the human figure and its movement. This interest found its full expression in Byzantine iconography. Julia was self-taught for many years and in 2008 started taking classes with master iconographer George Kordis both at the Theology Faculty of the University of Athens and at the Eikonourgia School of Iconography.
Julia strives to make each icon she paints a unique expression of the 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. In the words of iconographer Aidan Hart, her work captures “the appreciation of form found in Byzantine works with the translucency and painterliness that the Russians have perfected.”
Her hand-painted icons are in churches and private collections in Greece, South Africa, Russia, UK, Ukraine, Finland, Belgium, Romania, Czech Republic, Australia, USA, Indonesia and Argentina and have also been published in the Eastern/ Greek Orthodox Bible (NT) and the collection of Afrikaans poems by Fr Jacobus van der Riet, “Die Onsienlike Son” and the book “Ἅγιος Δημήτριος ὁ Λουμπαρδιάρης” by Charalambos Bousias and Ioannis Pervainas. She has also designed a logo for the Archdiocese of Athens children’s camps. Her icon of St Kassiani features on the cover of the Cappella Romana album "Hymns of Kassiani".
In September 2017, seeing the need for iconography tutorial that were accessible to those who can't attend live workshops and also reasonably prices, Julia started the Byzantine Iconography Video Tutorial Project on Patreon with the aim of producing iconography tutorials starting from the fundamentals of drawing and progressing to painting. There are currently over 40 tutorials available. Once each series is completed they are available on Udemy.
In 2015 Julia was included in the 12th volume of the "Great Orthodox Christian Encyclopedia" ("Μεγάλη Ορθόδοξη Χριστιανική Εγκυκλοπαίδια" - Stratigikes Ekdosies) with other Contemporary Iconographers.
She also translates Orthodox books from Greek to English such as "Avvakum the Bearfoot" by Monk Theodoretos the Hagiorite. She also has a passion for photography which she uses mainly to capture life in the Orthodox Church. Some of her photographs have been published in the book “Ἅγιος Δημήτριος ὁ Λουμπαρδιάρης” about the church of Saint Dimitrios Loumbardiaris on Philopappou Hill in Athens.
For more information about Julia you can read this interview in Orthodox Arts Journal.
Interview in Margutte Magazine (English/ Italian)