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Yvonne Bell (b.1951 – )
Mother of God of Clemency, 2010 (
Canvas print of original painted with egg tempera and 23 carat gold leaf on Iroko African Hardwood
42cm x 30cm (Print size)
Loaned by the artist
Mother of God of Clemency
I was commissioned to write this icon by a church in London who wanted a painting in memory of one of their teenagers who had died in a road accident outside the church.

I arranged to paint the icon at Alton Abbey during an icon painting week arranged by Dom Anselm the iconographer. I arrived with a drawing taken from The Mother of God of Vladimir wearing a genuine African fabric print that I had researched.

When painting an icon, you paint the face first because you are then looking into the eyes of the person you are creating in paint. She looks back at you.

When attempting to paint Christ’s top white, a voice in my mind shouted “It’s got to be red” I said no and she repeated the command. Her voice. She shouted at me until I mixed up red paint and used it.

In the evenings, we would all go to the chapel to sing Compline. The last piece was Hymn to Mary, and the words “O Clement, O Merciful” made me feel that she was telling me something. I could feel a giggling sensation every time I sang the word Clement. So I called the icon The Mother of God of Clemency.

When I phoned the vicar to say that the icon was finished and told her the title – she said “yes – that would be right. When the teenager died, he had just stolen something and was in need of clemency”.
(Yvonne Bell – Christian Art and Church Vestments/
Biographical Details
Yvonne Bell is a Christian artist who was trained in iconography by Dom. Anselm at the Abbey of Our Lady and St John at Alton in Hampshire. Yvonne works from her Northamptonshire studio. In addition to being an iconographer she also designs church vestments with painted silk panels as well as banners, chasubles, stoles, copes, mitres, lectern and pulpit falls and altar cloths.
(Yvonne Bell)