Setting up our display at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival

We are super excited to be setting up our display to promote Mangroves from the Water and its quest to highlight and protect the mangroves in the UAE and the world!

The Smithsonian Folklife Festival returns to the National Mall in Washington D.C. this summer,
June 22–27 and June 30–July 4. The featured programs this year are “Earth Optimism × Folklife:
Inspiring Conservation Communities” and “United Arab Emirates: Living Landscape | Living Memory.”
Over two weeks, visitors can enjoy music performances, craft workshops, cooking demonstrations,
hands-on activities, and more—all free, and a selection of events livestreaming worldwide.
We’re excited to take part in this annual celebration of culture of, by, and for the people, and we invite
you to join us in Washington, D.C., and beyond.
Save the dates and learn more at!


Here is a sneaky peak …

Radio Interview: Zahidah highlights the MFTW’s participation at the upcoming Smithsonian Folklife Festival. 

In a recent The Sustainable Hour Apple podcast interview, curator and founding artist Zahidah Zeytoun Millie highlights the Mangroves from the Water (MFTW) display at the upcoming Smithsonian Folklife Festival. 

Please listen to this important and informative interview here: The Sustainable Hour Apple podcast

Zahidah talks of ‘earth optimism’ and ‘ecological intimacy’, and she believes in the importance of art on using a ‘soft language’ about the climate scientists’ messages. She is taking this concern to the international stage later this month at a prestigious festival in Washington DC, USA: The Smithsonian Folklife Festival. 

This summer, the @SmithsonianFolk Festival returns to the National Mall in Washington, D.C. We’re
excited to take part and invite you to join us, June 22–27 and June 30–July 4!
Learn more:


The Enviro Hero Biography Program features curator and founder Zahidah Zeytoun Millie

We are happy to share a biography written about the founder of the Mangroves from the Water (MFTW) by Thomas D, a Grade 4 school student of The Geelong College.  The biography was part of the Enviro Hero biography program supported by three teachers, one of whom is John Henderson, Thomas’ teacher.  The aim of the program was to teach students about their surrounding environment and the local people who help the environment.  

We think the Enviro Hero biographies program was successful and the students learned a lot about their environment, how to write a biography and how to get environmentally active in the future. 

We thank The Geelong College for running the Enviro Hero biographies program and for the book that holds copies of all the biographies.  We thank the teacher John, and his student Thomas for his beautiful written and portrait work.  

Finally, we’d love all schools to add such a program to their curricula.  Please download the files below to see the students’ reflections on the Enviro Hero biographies program

Zahidah Zeytoun Millie

Founder and Curator

Development of UAQ Mangrove beach

Artists have always been the inspiration for new ideas that business people take for granted. 

The Mangroves from the Water art campaign was born in the UAE emirate of Umm Al Quwain, starting with a touring exhibition (2015-2016) and a festival in 2017.  We are happy and proud to see the fruits of our touring artworks. zanzibar-inspired-restaurant- mikoko-hut-has-opened-at-uaq- mangrove-beach/?fbclid= IwAR0iF3j7QOrvABZruLWe1FoDtI8E jJhwuJIUpH6ZpUmQv3dUKrgjBcXwJP Y

Here are some images of the cleaned up area leading towards the new developed beach..

Zahirah Zeytoun Millie


Photos: student kayak workshop with Zahidah

Zahidah ran a successful workshop with school students on Thursday 18 November 2021. 

Zahidah instructing students from the kayak

The nine Year 11 students from Thomas Carr College, along with three teachers, joined Zahidah on kayaks through the mangrove forests in Victoria.

The workshop is about a two hour trip: 20 minutes to kayak around the mangroves, then stop in a sheltered spot within the mangroves, then to sketch the scene using watercolour technique.  The aim of the workshop is to create a bond between the kayaker (student) and the mangrove trees by sketching them and to build greater understanding of the mangrove forests in Victoria, Australia.

For more details about workshops, please open this link:

CCCNN covers the Mangroves from the Water exhibition

Thank you to CCCNN – Climate Change Communication and Narratives Network – for highlighting the Mangroves from the Water exhibition in Geelong held in August and recognizing our founder and curator Zahidah Zeytoun Millie (member).

Please view their website to see the post and read all about the CCCNN’s mission and the wonderful work they do.

About the CCCNN:

Network focus

The Climate Change Communication and Narratives Network (CCCNN) seeks to complement existing climate change-related research activity at Deakin, critically focusing on the politics and practices of climate change narration and communication in a time of climate emergency.

This includes analysis of the assumptions, intentions, strategies and tools of climate change narration and communication – or broadly, storytelling – in public contexts and by stakeholders invested in the structural and imaginative changes required to mitigate climate change.

There are many assumptions about what storytelling is, how it’s done, and what works, in climate change communication. This is reflected in an increasing ubiquity of ‘stories’ in organisational responses to climate change, focused on public engagement.

As a network, we aim to explore nuanced, critically formed ways of thinking about storytelling and its capacities. We ask what is best practice in climate change communication that draws on this nuance and how is climate change communication being done, what are its limits, and who does it exclude? How can climate communication strategies innovate to engage with diverse demographics and multiple communities?

An outward-facing imperative

Our imperative is outward facing: scientists tell us we have less than ten years to avert the worst impacts of climate change. What we need now is real-world action and effective change.

We aim to contribute to climate change action and mitigation beyond the rhetorical and theoretical, while still interrogating our own knowledges, practices and histories within the academy, and contributing generatively to these.

Mangroves from the Water Exhibition photos

It’s with great pleasure that we are able to share these images with you from our official opening on Saturday 14 August 2021.

Thanks to the Gordon Gallery, the City of Greater Geelong, Sharjah Institute of Heritage, , the Barwon Estuary Project and Humans of Geelong for their support in realising this show.

The opening began with a Welcome to Wadawurrung Country by Elder Nikki McKenzie, supported by Norm Stanley on the didgeridoo; a ceremony we all acknowledged as befitting the themes and depth of our project and our regard for the mangrove landscape. 

We were honoured that Libby Coker MP officially opened the event and we’re grateful for her important words and interest in our project.

Curator Zahidah Zeytoun Millie acknowledged the support of our partners and introduced the work of our 13 artists, all focused on raising awareness of the beauty and importance of mangroves.

To Peter Martin, thank you for presenting the opening oration so eloquently.

The afternoon gave our 50 visitors (we were restricted by Covid 19!) a fascinating range of perspectives that included a human element in addition to the multi media artwork.  Choreographic artist Jacqui Dreessens performed a sensorial interpretation of mangroves in dance with video, and Richard Collopy presented a passionate talk on a traditional owner’s perspective of mangroves.  Viewers were enthralled by the depth of thought and detail presented in the multi media Mangroves from the Art exhibition. 

We are very grateful to everyone who came out to support us, especially during this difficult time with lockdowns.  We were sad to miss a few of the artists not being able to attend – some stuck locally (Nicola Cerini and Kerrie Taylor), and some abroad (Geraldine Chansard in Belgium, Stephanie Neville in the UAE and Alexis Gambis in France).

Credit for all images goes to photographer Phil Hines.  Our thanks to MC Daniel Zeytoun Millie.

Humans in Geelong

Huge thank you to the Humans in Geelong for their continued support to Mangroves from the Water. Here is an interview they posted with curator Zahidah Zeytoun Millie…

‘What I have been preparing to say is, that in wilderness is the preservation of the world.’ HD Thoreau“

I moved to Geelong from the United Arab Emirates in 2017. I was happy to discover the mangrove forests at Barwon Heads and began to learn the history of the land around my new home. I researched how the mangrove landscapes of the Port Phillip and coastal fringe areas were irrevocably transformed by colonial occupation. I also discovered that such change has caused a loss of biodiversity that unfortunately is now a feature of Australia’s ecology.” Zahidah Zeytoun Millie tells us more.

“Mangroves – Vanguards of the Sea. Ecologically important in linking land and sea, mangroves are part of Nature’s wilderness. The estuarine forests along northern Australia’s coastline are at risk, as stated by the Australian Government, Department of Environment and Energy. In southern Australia, though, where wilderness areas have suffered all so greatly, mangrove forests are rarely noticed or celebrated. A common perception of the beauty of the Victorian coastline is white sandy beaches, not an estuarine forest of mangrove trees. Searching tourism and environment websites of the Barwon Heads region where mangroves surround Lake Connewarre I find information about ocean greens relating to golf clubs and white sandy beaches for surfing, swimming, or walking. One can be amazed by plants like bull kelp, sandstone arches and sponge gardens, yet nothing about mangroves.

“A question often comes to mind: why the mangrove forest is not considered a place to visit, and to enjoy for its abundant wildlife? Kayaking within mangroves provides a wonderful opportunity to contemplate birds, crabs and fish. How can mangrove forests be so neglected? Surely, they cannot be considered ugly!“

As an artist and a curator, I believe the mangroves story deserves a collective story like the mangroves roots intertwine and interconnect. By gathering a team of collaborating artists from different backgrounds and using a variety of media, I have curated a festival of multimedia art that surrounds the viewer and depicts the story of the mangroves and wetlands. My aim is to confront the viewer and to touch their emotions to feel deeply about the strong connection between humanity and the surrounding natural world.

“The artists intend to present a multi-disciplinary art exhibition of works set on the theme Mangroves from the Water. The project members approach the theme with a fascinating range of media: impressionist water colours from a kayak, paintings, short films, weaving, sculpture, performance dance and an installation of printed textiles.

“Our exhibition is very grateful for the support of the City of Greater Geelong and also community support in the Geelong region and abroad including Humans in Geelong and the Barwon Estuary Project (Students of Barwon Heads Primary School), and also with the student environmental group Kids Thrive of Northern Bay College in Corio. The Sharjah Heritage Institute from the UAE is the exhibition’s ongoing supporter providing heritage books, a folk/human connection to mangroves, magazines and an Arab majlis (sitting place). The connection is ongoing as the Institute is to donate these exhibits to the School of Humanities and Social Studies at Deakin University.

“We were planning to open on 26 July 2021, International Day for the Preservation of Mangrove Ecosystems. However, with the extended lockdown the exhibition will open on Saturday 7 August and close on Wednesday 18 August. It can be viewed daily from 11am – 4pm at the Gordon Gallery, 2 Fenwick St, Geelong.

“I will share my experience in workshops. Participating artists will conduct workshops in printing, painting and storytelling.

“Mangroves from the Water started as an art campaign in the UAE in 2014 with a series of multimedia group art exhibitions and a 2017 Mangroves Festival. The art campaign is to continue from International Mangroves Day 26 July 2021 in Geelong, Australia.”

Zahidah Zeytoun Millie,

‘Mangroves from the Water’ founder & curator.

Photo: Contributing Artists

Workshop Alert! Paint from a kayak in the mangroves

Here is an exciting opportunity to be led via kayak into the secret gardens of the mangrove wetlands by our experienced kayaker and watercolour artist / Curator Zahidah Zeytoun Millie.

Sunday 15 August, Lake Conneware, Barwon Heads.

Please contact Zahidah directly on to book your spot.

Spaces are limited and we have 2 extra kayaks to use, thanks to the NBC school !

Zahidah Zeytoun Millie donated her artwork to Wasit Wetland Center, Sharjah

Zahidah donated her work Mangroves from the Water 3D (2015) to the Wasit Wetland Center in Sharjah.

Zahidah created a 3D sculpture of her experience in the mangrove after finding this piece of a mangrove tree destroyed by the local farmers and fisherman. Mixed with found objects from the Umm Al Quwain mangroves, they are set in a pool of clear resin to simulate the water and draped with natural wools reminiscent of the mossy grass/seaweeds found on site.