The story of the blanket
We’ll keep you safe (2016-17) is a community project to raise awareness of the mangroves in UAQ.
The idea originated in 2015, whilst preparing for the first Mangroves from the Water group touring exhibition which opened in NYUAD Project Space Gallery, moved to Sharjah Fine Arts Society, UAQ Museum and Thejamjar Alserkal Avenue over a period of 5 months.
It began with one knitted blanket which was a temporary installation in the UAQ Mangroves and photographed over a period of time. This work was called I’ll keep you safe (2015). I then continued to create a few more blankets, which was installed in the Abu Dhabi mangroves on Saayidat Island, and Kalba.
I associate knitting and crocheting with the tender love and care of a mother. It is an act of compassion, nurture and protection — to keep you warm and safe, to wrap you up. In knitting a protective layer for the mangrove trees, it offers a little help to Mother Nature in taking care of her ‘family’.
The first “We’ll keep you safe” open call was in 2016, asking the local and international community through social media to send in 20×20 cm squares of knit, crochet or any other type of traditional craft. Squares came pouring in and the first blanket installed in the mangroves was 5 meters in length. When it was decided to continue the exhibition and turn it into a festival, another open call was placed. This time the response was immense, especially after the public saw the first project and many asked to be included in the next. We had a great deal of interest locally in the UAE and from India specifically. Though we reached much further than this, and received packages with squares posted from as far as Canada and Australia. The tally is near 700 squares received to date. Our blanket is now 45 meters long, which coincides with our goal to celebrate the 45 years Spirit of the Union (as of December 2016).
There seem to be a continued interest in the wider public to carry on with this project. As long as the squares are coming in, the blanket will continue to grow — as will our dedication to the whole concept of education, protection and preservation initiated by the Mangroves from the Water team, specifically the curator Zahidah Zeytoun Millie.
To participate, please send 20×20 cm squares of knit/crochet/needlework. Any designs, any colours, any techniques, to S. Neville, P.O.Box 62298, Dubai, UAE.