The Flow of time

Nicola Anthony, Barry Yeow and Kim Whye Kee,

Singapore Art Museum, 2017


The flow of time is about Life's journey – its Many beginnings, endings, facets, and broken parts.

Calligraphy paper, ink, chrome, aluminium, glazed ceramics, oil paint. 360 x 150 x 150cm. Commissioned by Yellow Ribbon Project for Singapore Art Museum, 2017.

The Flow of Time was commissioned by Yellow Ribbon Project for the Singapore Art Museum Glass Box Gallery, to commemorate the Yellow Ribbon Art Community Exhibition 2017: For Better Endings and New Beginnings

A collaborative sculptural installation with Barry Yeow and Kim Whye Kee, The Flow of Time takes the shape of an hourglass, and is the artistic response of these three artists to their time as artist-mentors to the inmates at Changi Prison, Singapore, delivering the Yellow Ribbon Art Programme:


Installation and detail shots of 'The Flow of Time'. Photographs courtesy of Singapore Art Museum, 2017.

Video: speaking at the artwork opening, Singapore art Museum

"We all have a strong belief that human beings are not perfect, we are flawed, but that it is these broken parts which make us whole. They allow us to grow, learn from our mistakes and become better people along the way. It is also important to accept that to be broken is OK - it is not for us to judge others but to see that the cracks and broken parts are part of their journey, part of life’s texture.

What became clear to us was that when your day is not your own, or when your past contains mistakes and your future is uncertain, time becomes very powerful. In our depiction of time we have created a floating hourglass, which hovers on its side - perhaps it's on pause, with the sandy grains of time awaiting a direction to flow in, or perhaps it's at that pivotal point of change.

Barry Yeow's deep and soulful paintings can be seen in circular form at each end of the hourglass. Looking into these paintings, you can see the beginning and ending of every journey in life. Every textured blob of paint depicts the journey one embarks on. It may not be smooth but it's worth embarking upon.

Through the middle of the hourglass you will see a flow of sand, or the grains of time, represented by Whye Kee’s shattered fragments of clay. In Whye Kee’s words, every piece of ceramic comes from teapots which failed to make it to the kiln. But these pieces serve as an important part in my learning journey as a potter. It is a reminder that without broken fragments, there will not be the "Unbroken". No amount of support nor sympathy can help us to become a better and useful person in society, unless we choose to help ourselves.

And finally, the shape of the curvaceous outer skin of the hourglass: this part was created using Chinese calligraphy paper and inks - these materials reflect the techniques that I taught my class of students at Changi women's prison.

I have broken each paper scroll into fragments which are floating in time and space, within these paper fragments I began burning into the paper using incense sticks. This process for me is one of burning and destroying, creating holes and scars in the surface, but at the same time I am creating complexity, beauty, and revealing new depictions."

Nicola Anthony, Speaking at the Opening Ceremony of the Yellow Ribbon Community Art Exhibition, 6th October 2017.

Commissioned by