By: Hyacinth Mascarenhas
In an effort to raise awareness on the plight of Abu Dhabi’s mangroves, local artist Suhail Jashanmal spearheaded an initiative dedicated to promote environmental awareness and encourage sustainability and action within the community – Green Art Abu Dhabi.
Created in 2010, Green Abu Dhabi aimed to spread the message “Pick up the trash, yours or someone else’s too.” In addition to allowing citizens to clean up the mangroves in regular intervals, the initiative also allows the public to attend and experience the annual exhibition, purchase artwork and other collateral and actively engage in a nation-wide goal to promote and practice environmental and sustainable change.
“The whole idea is that the people themselves need to care enough to change their city, and we provide them with a way to do it,” Jashanmal said. “Not only is the city responding and joining our cause, like the Abu Dhabi Municipality (ADM) asking to be our partner, but we are growing our fan base and the fundraising continues to grow. That by itself, indicated people want more of what we are preaching and that they are listening and acting.”
The government and corporate community also serve as sponsors and partners to fund the awareness marketing of the exhibition.
Together with the Indian embassy of Abu Dhabi, the Higher Colleges of Technology under the patronage of H.E. Sh. Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, the current federal Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, the exhibition was launched in October 2010 with four artists capturing the message of looking to the past to remedy problems in the future.
“The purpose of Green Abu Dhabi is to look back to the past and be more careful with our resources,” said Jashanmal.
With 68 per cent artwork sales ranging from $8,000 – 25,000, and nearly 15,000 visitors, Green
Abu Dhabi accomplished its funding goal in just two years.
The upcoming show, Green Abu Dhabi 2013, will be held at the Anantara Eastern Mangroves Hotel, in association with the MASDAR Institute, from May 3 through May 31 to promote the launch of the Mangrove Project.
The show will also feature renowned artist George Lewis who has always felt connected to the Middle East; its local customs and traditions is something that he identifies with closely. After living and frequently visiting the region for over seven years, his photography and paintings capture the rich culture of the region, stating, “What I’m able to do is I’m able to get into the private space in the Islamic world. I achieve authenticity because I spend time with the locals whether that’s the Bedouin or the Jabali (mountain people) or the Hatheri (town’s people).” This sentiment is echoed throughout his work and can be found on his website.
Mini-events throughout the May exhibition include the YAS Water world sculpture day, Celebrity Community art auction, and mangrove cleanup. Exhibition entrance and tours are free with hours of operation from 12pm – 9pm Sunday to Thursday, and from 10am – 9pm on Friday’s and Saturdays.
The Mangrove Project cleanup will begin during the exhibition through May and will resume September 2013 through May 2014 to avoid the summer heat.
“Do we see a change? Yes, a big one,” said Jashanmal. “Is it big enough to change the whole city? We hope in time, if we grow, it will.”