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Jewellery shaped like simple black birds.


Migrating Birds range

Black enamelled sparrow series. Priced £15-22.

A close up of older, dark skinned hands fiing a piece of copper shaped like a bird.


Filing copper

Making jewellery

Two earrings shaped like simple swallows and enamelled in red.


Red swallow earrings

Part of range of jewellery. Priced £15-22.

a silver necklace with crescent shapes



Work from the latest workshops with artist Kathryn Partington.

A gruop of women crowd around as a man solders some metal in a cramped workshop.


Crescent Silver

The group on a visit to Crescent Silver in the Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham.



Project Summary

Women’s Craft Collective

Shelanu: Women’s Craft Collective is a social enterprise, supported by Craftspace, of migrant and refugee women producing high quality craft objects inspired by their adopted home, Birmingham and their experiences of migration. The aim of the Collective is to assist other migrant and refugee women to become more aspirational through creative development, working towards their integration into local communities and for those communities to profit from the rich diversity of the women’s experience.

2014 Souvenir Project

Shelanu Women's craft collective are currently developing a souvenir range that reflects the diversity of our contemporary city and have set up a Just Giving page to raise funds for the project.

Shelanu are really excited to be working with Birmingham Museums Trust as a partner and artist Ekta Kaul. The new range of souvenirs will be inspired by our experience of coming to the city, the urban environment and Birmingham’s heritage. This range could provide a regular income for the Collective as we aim to become a sustainable craft social enterprise.

Through creating previous jewellery ranges and visiting Birmingham cultural organisations to aid the design process, we have noticed a distinct lack of souvenirs which reflect the modern city of Birmingham, particularly as a place of rich diversity and creativity. We believe the members of Shelanu are in a unique position to represent Birmingham; the urban environment and its heritage through the eyes of newcomers and therefore draw out new themes and imagery which can represent Birmingham in a more contemporary and diverse light.

The new range will explore the potential of digital technologies in batch production. Any outsourcing of production would be to companies within the city’s Jewellery Quarter or Birmingham.

Shelanu at the Craft and Conflict exhibition, Bilston

Bilston Craft Gallery, 13 September - 22 November 2014
Shelanu have work in Bilston's Crafts and Conflict exhibtion. The show brings together both contemporary and historical items that commemorate and explore the themes of war and remembrance. Included in the exhibition are examples of how local companies and their workforces assisted with the war effort during the First World War, by fabricating items such as grenades, helmets and even service vehicles.

Shelanu FIMO workshop

Bilston Craft Gallery, 11 October 2014 11.00am - 3.00pm
Join Shelanu and learn how to master the art of modelling with FIMO to create a bespoke piece of jewellery at their workshop. £16, booking required. Suitable for ages 16+.

Shelanu at mac birmingham Christmas markets

Shelanu's new jewellery and souvenir ranges wil be on sale at the popular mac Christmas markets on the 6th and 13th December

Migrating Birds

This jewellery range is inspired by the women’s experiences of migrating to Birmingham. Migrating Birds was created with the support of Rita Patel, a successful contemporary Birmingham jeweller.

Prices range from £15-£22. If you’re interested in buying any of the pieces please contact the women at
. More on the latest range here and more images on pinterest.

Craft Skills Awards

Craftspace, was highly commended in the Craft Skills Awards 2013 for our work with Shelanu, at a ceremony in London on 2 May hosted by Kirstie Allsopp and attended by HRH Prince Charles. You can see a video of the nominated projects including images of Shelanu here. Craftspace was shortlisted for the Engaging New and Diverse Audiences in Craft Skills award.

The Shelanu Collective now have their own website:

On the Radio

In May  2013 Shelanu were featured on the BBC Radio WM show Midlands Masala. You can hear the interview using the SoundCloud link below.You can hear BBC WM Midlands Masala show sundays 6pm-8pm hosted by Arshia Riaz. Arshia was involved in our project Connecting Communities where Shelanu linked up with the Young At Heart group from Sheldon in Birmingham.

Craft Skills Awards

Craftspace, was highly commended in the Craft Skills Awards 2013  for our work with Shelanu, at a ceremony in London on 2 May hosted by Kirstie Allsopp and attended by HRH Prince Charles. You can see a video of the nominated projects including images of Shelanu here. Craftspace was shortlisted for the Engaging New and Diverse Audiences in Craft Skills award.

January 2013 - New Commission for The Herbert in Coventry

To coincide with the Caught in the Crossfire  exhibition at The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum 2013, Shelanu created an exclusive range of 40 limited edition pieces inspired by Coventry as a city of peace and reconciliation for the venue’s shop. The range was influenced by the city’s cathedral and the collections within the museum.

After visiting the Herbert and Coventry, the members of Shelanu were struck by the ethos of the city to overcome war and conflict, through building understanding and tolerance, encouraging people and communities to work together. As a group of refugee and migrant women, these ideals echoed the group’s own ambitions and experiences:

"My favourite piece is the text in the Peace and Reconciliation gallery about a way to avoid future wars and live peacefully alongside former enemies because I have the same hope for Israel" Kinneret

The group were moved by the ongoing work of Coventry Cathedral and its global role within the International Centre for Reconciliation and the Community of Cross and the designs in wood take inspiration from the Cathedral’s windows, referencing a bud to symbolise new life and hope.

The circular nature of some of the designs was an important inclusion to many of the women signifying the importance of remembering conflict to hopefully learn from the past.

The circle also symbolises global links, including Coventry’s bond with 26 twin cities and the German Circle, a group created in Coventry following the Blitz to learn about the German culture together.

The colours chosen for the pieces are reminiscent of John Piper’s ‘Interior of Coventry Cathedral’. Painted by the official war artist, the work depicts the Cathedral ruins in stunning technicolour the morning after it was destroyed in an air raid on November 14th, 1940.

"My favourite piece is the painting of the Cathedral. The colours are a symbol of hope and a nice contrast to the sad black and white photos." Kiki

The pieces have been inspired by Coventry, designed by the Collective, laser cut and hand finished in Birmingham.  The development of this range was supported by Craftspace intern Saskia Van der Gucht.

More images on pinterest and flickr.

Update November 2012

Following a summer of exhibitions Shelanu have been busy completing their Migrating Birds range, ready for three Christmas Craft Fairs in Birmingham. The Collective are participating in The Barber Institute Fair on 24th November, mac marketplace Contemporary Craft Fair on the 8th December, as well as a fair in the offices of Ernst and Young.

The Migrating Birds range of jewellery is inspired by the women’s experiences of migrating to Birmingham. Migrating Birds was created with the support of Rita Patel, a successful jeweller. Following individual design development Shelanu members selected their favourite bird designs to be re-worked as collective forms, which were then wire cut from copper in the Jewellery Quarter. These pieces have been hand finished, then enamelled by Shelanu or silver plated in the Jewellery Quarter.

Shelanu are also very excited to announce a commission from The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum in Coventry. They have been asked to make pieces inspired by the themes of their exhibition, ‘Caught in the Crossfire: Artistic responses to conflict, peace and reconciliation’ which opens on 25th January 2013.

The jewellery range is being designed by adopting a collective process, so all members are involved. The process is being supported by Craftspace intern Saskia Van der Gucht. The resulting range will explore themes of peace and reconciliation through visual elements which relate directly to Coventry, but also the women’s own diverse experiences.

2013 also promises to be a busy year with plans to target gallery shops, with the Migrating Birds range, a Birmingham focussed project and expansion plans to work with more refugee, migrant and newly arrived women.

Recent project with Kathryn Partington

Shelanu has been collaborating with jeweller Kathryn Partington to develop batch produced and handmade jewellery. The women have been using Birmingham as their starting point. Birmingham has always been a place of revolution; of enlightened thinking, engineering genius, commercial prowess, cultural tolerance and creative diversity. It is a city that is always looking forward. The women are also looking forward and experiencing their own personal revolution of change and new experiences.

Utilising craft techniques the women have made work in response to their environment, creating a sense of place for themselves and highlighting elements which other residents may take for granted.


The idea for a collective and social enterprise grew from a series of collaborative projects between Craftspace and the Community Integration Partnership (CIP). CIP supported refugee, migrant and newly arrived women and their children to achieve by maximising their skills and potential within a secure environment. In 2002 CIP formed a long term partnership with Craftspace to enrich the lives of women by delivering a series of high quality arts projects: Seeds of Change, New Growth. 

The women’s work was exhibited widely including a stand at Origin, the Crafts Council’s London fair in 2007. Buyers and the general public were interested in quality craft objects enriched by socially engaged content and narrative. This inspired us to create a crafts social enterprise which would enable women to progress from being recipients and beneficiaries of arts activity to producers who can contribute to the creative economy and develop a more diverse offer to the marketplace. CIP and Craftspace jointly secured a three year grant from the Baring Foundation Refugee Arts Programme towards the core cost of establishing a craft social enterprise. Routes to New Roots

The development of the social enterprise began in 2009. Due to the closure of CIP in 2010, Craftspace continued to develop the social enterprise alone. Shelanu was launched in June 2011 with investment from Arts Council England Grants for the Arts to undertake skills building creative residencies.  Since then Shelanu have exhibited widely across the region, sold at a number of craft fairs, facilitated workshops for community groups and galleries and have completed a commission for The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum shop in Coventry.

Craftspace continues to provide opportunities for Shelanu members to work alongside and shadow professional artists and other creative professionals, to build creative, social and business skills enabling some to take up roles within the enterprise in the longer term and others to improve their employability.  

It is our intention that the social enterprise will become increasingly self-sustaining, less dependent on grant assistance, using the enterprise’s surplus to expand and develop the services provided to and by the women within local and national communities.  This complements Craftspace’s ethos of assisting the Shelanu members to become more aspirational, ensuring that the creative and holistic development of the women is the core of all future policy planning.

“Shelanu – which means belonging to us – is a Birmingham based craft social enterprise. Shelanu is a collective of migrant and refugee women who produce high quality craft objects inspired by their new home of Birmingham, informed by their countries of origin. The women of Shelanu are currently working with Craftspace to develop the craft social enterprise. The work stimulates and contributes to a contemporary sense of place-making enabling others to rediscover heritage, identity and individualism through the eyes of diverse cultures.”

“Our aim is to assist refugee women to become more aspirational through their creative and holistic development, encouraging better integration into local communities and for those communities to profit from the diversity and richness of the women’s experience.”

“The development of the social enterprise is enabling the women to not only learn new skills but also use existing ones which they’ve been unable to utilise since being here. One woman is a trained graphic designer but has been unable to work in the UK. As well as making the craft pieces she has also worked with our graphic design company, Stripeyhorse, to develop the Shelanu brand. Another lady was a teacher, she is looking forward to using her skills to lead workshops for the community to share the new skills she has learnt.” Emma Daker, Exhibitions and Project Development Manager, Craftspace.

Work with us

Shelanu is always looking for clients for bespoke commissions and workshops. We are also keen to talk to potential partners, volunteers and mentors.

Follow us on Twitter: @shelanucraft or


Funded by The Baring Foundation & Arts Council England.

The Custard Factory are delighted to be supporters of Shelanu.

Shelanu is an initiative which aims to develop a craft social enterprise with newly arrived and refugee womenpromoting excellence in making. The social enterprise will contribute towards the role of crafts as an ongoing contribution to the cultural, economic, social regeneration and tourism infrastructure of the country.”
Deirdre Figueiredo, Director Craftspace.

Photographs © : Becky Matthews

Developing people, ideas and opportunities through contemporary craft.

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