In her sun-drenched studio in Camden, Maine, Antonia Munroe’s textile designs spring to life. Antonia is primarily a painter, though her textile practice has begun to flourish over the past three years. She has always been drawn to patterns and repeating motifs, including them in her paintings as backgrounds and borders, and at present, allowing the motif to become the central theme of the composition.
Antonia’s motifs are inspired by the world around her – cloth pieces collected over the years, glorious details found in architecture, and the intricacies of the natural world. Textiles have always been present in her creative practice, though it wasn’t until recently that she delved into designing, painting, and dyeing cloth herself.
Antonia was raised in a family of creatives. Her mother was a teacher and an artist, always supporting Antonia’s and her siblings’ creative endeavors. In their family, attention and an open curiosity about art, architecture, and history were highly encouraged.
The family traveled and relocated often for her father’s work. After spending much of her childhood in Mexico, her family moved to Japan. Throughout her travels, she remembers collecting fragments of cloth, inexplicably drawn to the intricacy and beauty of the stitches. A delicately embroidered shirt or swath of printed fabric would serve both as memento and beacon. Antonia’s later travel through India was pivotal. The study of textile and painting techniques in India continues to serve as a major source of visual and conceptual inspiration.
In her current cloth work, Antonia skillfully dyes and paints fabric. She uses both natural and synthetic dyes, each one chosen to best suit the process and final purpose. She sketches daily, and at times her drawings become thick, hand-cut stencils, which then are used to architect beautiful, vibrant patterns onto cloth.
Her growing collection of stencils, a personal vocabulary, currently holds about 150 – each uniquely sized and shaped. She reuses them as her compositions take form, puzzling together the pieces to create anew. She uses a clay resist paste that is stenciled, painted, or stamped before cloth is immersed into dye vats to reveal the negative image. The vats live in her studio, ready to transform cloth. Among her favorite dyes are myrobalan, marigold, and indigo, as she is drawn to the vibrance and harmony of their shades.
Antonia approaches teaching with skill and curiosity. Having taught children’s art workshops for 29 years, she curates a learning environment with a focus on creativity and exploration. In her lessons she shares the breadth of textile knowledge she has spent years gathering, finding joy watching each student’s creativity unfurl.
Photographs by Jane Kurko, Jordana Munk Martin, and Sienna Renee Photography.
Antonia will be teaching clay resist and indigo techniques at Tatter’s Textile Retreat this fall. Join us in midcoast Maine September 25th-30th, 2022, for this incredible learning experience. For more information, visit our Tatter Textile Retreat website.
Antonia Munroe is a painter and textile artist living and working in Camden, Maine. She is the founder and director of The Art Circle, art and textile workshops for children and adults.
Antonia’s paintings and textiles are informed by extensive travel, research and study of historical methods and materials, mostly inspired by India but with a deep bow to European and Japanese traditions. Painted, stenciled and block printed patterns have been a central theme in all her work.
Since 2014 Antonia has traveled to Rajasthan, India to study with master Indian miniature painter, Ajay Sharma. She finds the exquisite technique of miniature painting, in which the artist employs brilliant hand ground pigment and tiny brushes , to be completely mesmerizing. The traditional paintings in this style most often depict a central subject surrounded by elaborate and fanciful borders with repeating patterns.
Antonia founded Antonia Textiles in 2018. She is particularly drawn to the ancient technique known as “dabu” in which a mud based resist is applied to fabric and dipped into the indigo vat. Other natural dyes such as myrobalan, cutch and lac provide lovely grounds for her hand printed designs.
Antonia is represented by Victoria Munroe Fine Art in New York City. In November 2022 she will have a one person exhibit of paintings in the Indian miniature technique and large tapestry textiles. In Camden, her paintings can be seen at The Page Gallery. Her textiles can be purchased online, or in the enchanting Antonia Textiles shop in her barn in Camden, Maine.