Outline of project, purpose/goal:
Shelanu: Women’s Craft Collective is a developing craft social enterprise with and for migrant, refugee and newly/recently arrived women in Birmingham, UK, supported by Craftspace.

Craftspace is a crafts development organisation working to increase opportunities for makers, as well as access to and participation in contemporary crafts for all. Our programme is devised to stimulate artistic excellence, critical thinking, curiosity, experience and understanding of contemporary crafts in the widest social and diverse cultural contexts and across ages. We aim to develop partnerships and connections between people and organisations to grow engagement with craft. We aim to support artists to make new work as cultural capital whilst building social capital in communities through engagement with the ideas and practices of making. For more information go to www.craftspace.co.uk

Shelanu is a Hebrew word meaning ‘belonging to us’. The aim of the Collective is to reduce isolation within a vulnerable group and enable women to develop confidence and skills, become more independent, share their knowledge and skills with the wider community, contribute to the creative economy and become cultural and social ambassadors for Birmingham. The group has been working towards developing a viable enterprise with professional contemporary jewellers as lead artists producing, exhibiting and selling contemporary jewellery inspired by the industrial heritage of Birmingham as well as their own cultural backgrounds. Shelanu also aspires to work as a collective with a social purpose providing a safe, productive and progressive environment for other migrant/refugee and newly arrived women who may otherwise be isolated, have difficulty integrating and are unable to develop their skills. They also have an aspiration to devise and deliver creative workshops in the community.

The group started in January 2011 meeting once a week for up to five hours. The first range was launched in June 2011. None of the women had ever made jewellery or worked in metal. Previous collections have been made in copper then cast in brass and silver plated, or wire cut then enamelled or silver plated. Shelanu currently have a South Korean student on placement for five sessions, he is teaching them to make rings, which they’ve never done before. It is hoped that the practice copper pieces will be made in silver.

As well as producing the Migrant Birds product range  collectively (http://www.shelanucollective.co.uk/gallery-shelanu-handmade-crafts....) and responding to commissions the Shelanu members create their own independent designs and are currently responding to the history galleries in Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery http://www.bmag.org.uk/new-birmingham-history-galleries. The current cost of silver is prohibitive to the growing craft social enterprise which is subsidised during its development phase. I am nominating Shelanu for the crafthaus Project Grant to enable the group to by silver sheet and snake chain so that the members can realise their designs in silver, increasing their motivation and sense of achievement.

These pieces would be developed alongside other projects the Collective are delivering including Christmas craft fairs and a creative residency at Birmingham’s new Library. Consequently the Silver Project would run from October to January as the group only meet once a week for up to five hours. The resulting works would be pitched to craft fairs at reputable venues next Spring and Summer.

In addition to the crafthaus blog Shelanu will update their own project blog: http://shelanucollective.co.uk/blog/ with the progress of the individual work in silver and will also Tweet about the developments from @shelanucraft.

Start date of project and duration:
4th October 2013 – 31st January 2014

Location of project
Birmingham, UK

Requested funding amount:

Other information, e.g. images or other relevant (visual) documentation to further illustrate project:


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