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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 is funded by grants from trusts and foundations, private donations and income from sales of their work and services. We are currently looking for sources of future funding to make sure that we can continue to benefit the community and  develop the group into a self sustaining social enterprise.

*SHELANU BLOG - If you were following Shelanu on their blog, we're sorry, due to a technical problem it is currently offline. We're hoping to get it up an running really soon.*

Workshop: Mercian Medals

Bilston Craft Gallery
Tuesday 16 February
11am – 12.30pm and 1.30pm – 3pm
Maximum of 12 children per session, aged 5 – 12.

Shelanu will work with the children to create embossed medals and jewellery. Children will emboss thin sheet metal (copper and aluminium) by drawing with pens. The pieces of metal will then be secured onto either a card or plywood backing to give the piece a more three-dimensional appearance. The pieces can then be decorated with colour using permanent markers (e.g. Sharpie pens), which is suitable for the metal. Appropriate fixings will then be attached to the pieces so the children can wear them.

Refugee and migrant women working with Craftspace to develop a sustainable craft social enterprise.

2015 Shelanu into the community

The group are running a series of workshops with communities around Birmingham funded by Birmingham City Council. 

Shelanu members will pass on their jewellery making skills to other refugee, migrant and newly arrived women with the aim of the participants each creating their own collection of jewellery which explores ideas surrounding the themes of place, belonging and identity. The workshops’ results will culminate in an exhibition at a central venue which will showcase the participant’s work and the diversity of the city.

2015 Souvenir Project

Shelanu are currently developing a souvenir range that reflects the diversity of our contemporary city. Read more about the aims of the project.

Migrating Birds

This jewellery range is inspired by the women’s experiences of migrating to Birmingham. Read more about Migrating Birds.


Shelanu is a developing social enterprise, supported by Craftspace, of migrant and refugee women producing high quality craft objects inspired by their new home,  the city of Birmingham.

“It’s a place to learn and try new skills, a place that I can feel connected and free to try new ideas and express my artistic side... It’s a positive way to contribute and find your place in a new place.”
Shelanu member

Work with us

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

If you are interested in any of these activities or would like to join Shelanu please contact:


Follow us on Twitter: @shelanucraft or


Aims of the project

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. 

Shelanu undertake a range of activities, assisting members to develop new skills, increase confidence, combat isolation, challenge preconceptions and support integration.
They do this through:

  • Workshops for schools, adults, children and families
  •  Making and selling jewellery inspired by the theme of migration and Birmingham
  • Public and private commissions

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.

Past projects and news

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.

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.

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. Read more about this commission.

Routes To Trade

Shelanu also collaborated with jeweller Kathryn Partington to develop batch produced and handmade jewellery inspired by Birmingham's manufacturing history. Read more about Routes To Trade.


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.


Funded by the Barrow Cadbury Trust.

Previous partners and funders The Baring Foundation & Arts Council England.

The Custard Factory are delighted to be supporters of Shelanu.

Photographs © : Becky Matthews

Developing people, ideas and opportunities through contemporary craft.

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