Faith and Function: The Power of Icons in Village Societies


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Small in scale and embellished with jewel-like colours which sparkle under flickering candlelight, icons have for millennia served as intimate and transcendental ‘windows to heaven’, offering divine inspiration, protection, guidance and advice. 

Join Mary Kisler as she shares insights into the personal relationship between people and icons in Greek Orthodox practice. 


Mary Kisler MNZM is a renowned curator, writer and art historian. After completing a Masters in Italian and Art History, she worked for 21 years at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, ultimately as Senior Curator, Mackelvie Collection, International Art. From 2014 to 2019 she worked on the Frances Hodgkins Project at Auckland Art Gallery, which resulted in two publications: the exhibition catalogue Frances Hodgkins: European Journeys produced in collaboration with other writers including international expert Frances Spalding (Auckland University Press and Thames & Hudson, 2019) and Finding Frances Hodgkins (Massey University Press, 2019). These accompanied the touring exhibition Frances Hodgkins – European Journeys (2019–2020) and the launch of the Frances Hodgkins online catalogue raisonné. Mary continues to serve as curator emerita at the Gallery in relation to the Hodgkins Project.  

Mary has led art tours to Europe and Australia and was involved in art discussions with Kim Hill on Radio New Zealand’s Saturday Morning programme for many years. Previous publications include Angels & Aristocrats: Early European Art in New Zealand Public Collections (Random House New Zealand, 2010). She is currently researching a biography of James Tannock Mackelvie, who left his collection of artworks, books and objects of virtu to the people of Auckland in 1885, as well as a memoir of her father’s experiences as a prisoner of war.  

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