Back in 2008

Icon Adventures was founded by British iconographer, Helen McIldowie-Jenkins with the simple aim of offering out-of-the-ordinary ‘painting pilgrimages’ – at affordable prices.

Born out of years of travel to fascinating places to study icons and sacred art in their loca sacra, the first icon painting retreats were to the Egyptian Sinai and focused on the icon collection at St Catherine’s Monastery.

They were a huge success in their quirky combination of a practical icon painting course with art history, coral reef snorkelling, camel riding, desert dinners and the chance to climb Mount Sinai! (Sadly, these Sinai retreats were suspended due to be to the ongoing security situation.)


The adventure has continued with retreat courses in two other unique and inspiring destinations:

Assisi (Central Italy) Franciscan art and icon painting in the City of Peace, with its world famous UNESCO basilicas filled and the birthplace of Saints Francis and Clare.

Walsingham (Eastern England) Icon Painting in England’s Nazareth, the historic, pilgrimage site with two national Shrines to Our Lady and a birthplace of British iconography.

Key Features

Each course is open to Beginners and Improvers with specialist materials either supplied or sold. The itineraries combine a practical painting course with pilgrimage and complimentary extra curricula options. The retreats are ecumenical, open to all and have a art history element.

The retreats are carefully structured to give the best possible guidance, tuition and support from start to finish. All the accommodation and facilities have been selected for their safety and suitability. Icon Adventures supports responsible tourism and therefore visits or promotes local businesses, products and providers in each location.

Course Provider

All the courses featured here are designed and delivered by professional iconographer and educator Helen McIldowie-Jenkins; a graduate of the Courtauld Institute of Art, who has produced commissioned icons and taught icon painting for over 30 years, as well as lecturing on iconography and late medieval Italian art. To check-out Helen’s work, biography and qualifications, please visit: www.elenisicons.co.uk.