Time is like a river that flows from the past

This series of artworks are part of the Intersection body of works, a collaboration between myself and poet Marc Nair which explores unspoken histories in Yangon, London, and Singapore. Waterways were a feature of each city that has shaped them geographically, physically and historically.

Journeying the Thames, Yangon River, and Rochor River-turned-Canal we found the vestiges of colonial influence, the relentless march of capitalism, and the stubborn refusal of history to disappear.

These artworks reflect the old and new paths of rivers as well as the fluid nature of ink, tides and time. When we see a river on a map we know that it has changed course during its history, often shaped by man’s intervention.

Underground there are many unseen streams, tributaries and flows which lead into the river itself.

On my calligraphy paper this becomes a metaphor for the invisible elements all around us in life that lead to the path we find ourselves on. Fragments from Marc’s poems float alongside the inky river banks.

Detail: Nicola Anthony, Beneath the Gleaming Glisten, Ink on tree-skin paper, 50cm x 73cm, 2016

Detail: Nicola Anthony, Beneath the Gleaming Glisten, Ink on tree-skin paper, 50cm x 73cm, 2016


To take a deeper look at Rochor River, we see that it divides two historic settlements (Kampong Glam and Little India). Historically this water source was used to transport timber from Malaysia and Indonesia to local sawmills, and was a channel for goods transportation in early Singapore. Natural pastures at the banks allowed for cattle trade, which eventually led to other activities such as rubber factories, ice works, and markets for used goods such as Sungei Road. In earlier times the river was a source of food and life for the original settlers in swampy Singapore who built their stilted houses along its banks and the sea outlet.

“If you look hard enough you can still experience the ghosts and vibrations from the past manifesting in the now. And as artists, all we can do is close our eyes and open ourselves to stimulus and stories.”

Intersection includes a published book and a large collection of ink on calligraphy paper paintings, incense-burned drawings, calligraphy paper sculptural forms, installations using found objects which resonate with the spaces which Marc and Nicola travelled to during their research. More info on the Intersection Series here: https://nicolaanthony.co.uk/gallery/#/intersection-1/


This series of artworks were created during Nicola’s time as artist-in-residence at the NPE Art Residency in Kallang, Singapore, 2016-17.