Acheritou: Tonia Antoniou - "The loss of my twin sister and little brother pushed me to Hagiography"

Interview with Eleftheria Chr. Komodromou

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Interview with Eleftheria Chr. Komodromou

"With the loss of my twin sister and my little brother, I decided to pursue a career in hagiography, since it offers me peace and tranquility" 

She was involved in painting, but hagiography won her over.

She loves to hold her brushes and create with her own technique. Let's not say anything else, let's get to know her better through the interview she gave us.

Tonya, thank you for giving us the opportunity to get to know the world better. Tell us a few words who is Tonia Antoniou who is hagiographed.

I thank you for the honor you give me and the opportunity you give me to let people know me. Tonia is a 46-year-old refugee girl from Famagusta. My father is from the occupied Acheritos and before the invasion of 1974 he lived in the Parish of Agia Zoni in Famagusta with my mother and my brother. I am a mother of 4 children. I have 3 daughters and 1 son. For the last 26 years I have been living permanently in Ayia Napa. I have studied painting at ABC de Paris, Hagiography for 4 years in Cyprus and in Thessaloniki at the Tyrekidis School.

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What does hagiography mean to you and how did you deal with it?;

 Hagiography for me is a way of life, a kind of psychotherapy. As difficult and demanding as the whole process is, it gives you so much pleasure. It is an incredible feeling to slowly see the Saint or the Saint coming to find you through the evolution of hagiography. I feel that it is a great blessing and divine gift to be able to paint. I always remember myself with a drawing pad in my hand and colored pencils. From a young child I hung pictures and copied them in pencil. When I lost my twin sister when we were 12 years old then I started to deal even more. I felt that through hagiography I could communicate with her. Later, when I lost my little brother, I decided not to do anything but hagiography again. The occasion was a miracle that I experienced after his death that made me deal more stubbornly with hagiography.

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Hagiography has influenced your lifestyle; Because those who deal with hagiography follow a different way of life. Isolation, prayer and fasting.

Through hagiography I have reviewed many things in my life. Before I start painting an image, I must read the life of the Saint. To meet him and then start painting her. Throughout the hagiography I always hear psalms. Isolation and concentration are required. There are some rules we have to follow you can not do what you want. Even the last detail in an image matters. Everything symbolizes something from the color of the clothes to the buildings and the animals.

Do you think that your art has something different from other artists that makes it stand out?; If yes, what is "trial " your stamp on your own works;

Every artist has his own character. You can not escape. It needs a lot of attention. So, I's my own character that makes me stand out. I work with the ancient Byzantine method with mineral powder colors liquefied with egg yolk and vinegar which is called egg tempera. Vinegar acts as a preservative for the egg and at the same time symbolizes the vinegar given to Christ and the egg symbolizes the beginning of life. In the plain (behind Agios) I apply 23K gold leaf     

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You are now among the modern Greek artists. It was something you expected;

After 15 years of hard work, I am also among the 109 modern Greek artists. Yes, it was something I expected because I worked hard many days and nights without eating to make ends meet alone with 4 kids. I have participated in 3 exhibitions in Athens and Piraeus with ART WAY and I thank them very much for the trust they showed me.

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Remember some tips from teachers or from seminars that you kept and helped you along the way?;

My teachers always told me that I should be humble and work hard. We are doing a divine work that, if God does not want it, cannot be accomplished. The handwriting we write on each image has two meanings. First, that the image was made by the hand of that hagiographer and second, that the image is handmade.


Where we can see your works;

My works are found in various churches throughout Cyprus in adored Crete, Paros, Thessaloniki, Athens, Kavala and London. Anyone who wants to find me on FACEBOOK can: Handmade Icons by Tonia Antoniou and [email protected]_icons

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We close the interview with a wish of yours.

I would like to thank you for the hospitality with the hope that better days will come for the whole world. Days of peace.

* Interview with Eleftheria Chr. Komodromou