A few months ago I began working on a commission for John Shannon. John is the President of the College of Arms Foundation now based in South Carolina which exists to inform Americans on English heraldry and helps raise funds for the very fabric of the College of Arms in London whose building dates from the late 17th Century. The Foundation was founded in 1984 during a major exhibition by the New York Historical Society and amid celebrations of the 500th Anniversary of the College of Arms. I was fortunate to attend the opening of the exhibition when as a young heraldic artist working for Dr Conrad Swan, York Herald of Arms he asked if I would be interested in going to New York for five days. Of course I had to think about it for about thirty seconds and enthusiastically said yes! Aquascutum of London had recently received a grant of arms from the College and they wanted an artist in residence to paint another version of their arms in their 5th Avenue store which was adorned with their arms produced in rhinestones by their window dressers and designers. The store was officially opened by the Duke of Norfolk, Earl Marshal of England during the celebrations in New York City. I also attended the banquet which followed. It was quite a week, never to be forgotten.
I have painted Johns arms before and so I was delighted to be able to help him with this project. St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church is in the beautiful city of Charleston in the state of South Carolina. Although not the original which sadly burned down in 1835 the current church was erected in 1836. The design for their seal already existed and so my design brief was to produce a monochrome line drawing for the church to use in a variety of ways. This was a second design. The first was abandoned as aspects of it did not sit well with the diverse quarters of the shield. This version however improved everything and was generally more satisfying. A challenge certainly because the charges are not heraldic as such apart from the crossed swords.
In over 35 years as a professional heraldic artist I have produced coats of arms for Popes, Cardinals and Archbishops. I have designed and painted numerous coats of arms for Abbots and priests but this is the first artwork painted for a specific church apart from painting the arms of Buckfast Abbey on the Abbots Stall in the choir of that church. I was honoured to be asked to move to the abbey to help restore paintings in the refectory and produce a series of heraldic paintings for the wall as well as design some unique cards for sale in the Abbey Bookshop. I was blessed to be able to attend all the daily services and paint it was about as close as one could get to living in the medieval period.
Painting this seal for John, the President of the College of Arms Foundation brought back some fond memories for me of working for the College of Arms and that wonderfully aesthetic time at Buckfast. John also commissioned a line drawing of his arms which were granted by the College of Arms and so I am looking forward to painting this for him in due course. I am very honoured to work for such a fine patron with such a keen heraldic eye.
Copyright Andrew Stewart Jamieson. All rights belong SOLELY to the Jamieson Family.