Dubai: When Surya Bala moved to the UAE from India in 2016, she felt warmly welcomed in to the community, and decided to show her appreciation by making the largest paper-quilled UAE flag.
The 26 year-old from India, who is a civil engineer at Larsen and Toubro in Sharjah, said she was “amazed” at how the UAE is hosting a diversity of nationalities and “extending its love and peace to the people”. Soon after her arrival, Bala chose to create an artistic master piece and what can potentially be the largest quilled piece in the world — to show her gratitude to the UAE.
“I will dedicate this handmade quilled flag to the people of this nation on December 2 because I feel extremely lucky and fortunate to be in a country like the UAE which cares for the peace, welfare and happiness of its residents,” she told Gulf News.
Moving to Dubai to start a new chapter in her life, Bala said she was at the “lowest point” in her life when she decided to transform her pain and struggle into positive energy, and began her paper-quilling project.
“The stories of the people from Yemen and Syria at the local gyms transformed my life and my way of thinking. The new cultures, beliefs and way of living gave me new hopes for a beautiful life ahead,” said Bala.
Taking up paper quilling around six years ago, Bala often made smaller projects and was pleasantly surprised to receive positive feedback from family and friends.
While considered a primitive art craft, Bala pointed out that paper quilling is a skill that depends on “consistency, hard work, and the right thought process”.
“I have been making this piece since November 2016 and had to plan it precisely as the flag is made up of 48 smaller sheets of different dimensions. I have been working on it for more than 11 months now, and I spend around five hours paper quilling a day,” she said.
The final piece is set to be 32 sq m (8m by 4m), made up of 5mm thick 100,000 coloured strips of paper, brought and customised from India, with 4kg of glue, weighing more than 50kg.
“I have completed 90 per cent of the project — and once completed, it will be the largest paper-quilled mosaic in the world. The Guinness World Records has approved the idea and has issued certain guidelines for the display for record purposes,” she said. The current world record is of a paper-quilled piece measuring 5mx5m.
Bala is currently looking for a venue to display this quill, and aims to put it up for auction in the future and donate the money to the UAE’s charitable organisations.
“I would like to display it in any of the government buildings or galleries in the country on the UAE’s National Day, and I hope I will find a place soon,” added Bala.