On the occasion of International Women’s Day 2022, we’ve interviewed the founders of three organisations that put the experience of women at the core of their mission. First, we spoke to Emma Daker, exhibitions and project development manager at the organisation Craftspace, which set up and facilitates Shelanu – a Birmingham-based craft group dedicated to women that have moved into the city from around the world.
What prompted you to start Shelanu?
Shelanu: Women’s Craft Collective was launched in June 2011, but we began the work that informed its creation in 2009, following five years of working with a refugee and migrant organisation in Birmingham. Together, we delivered a series of arts projects to enrich the lives of refugee women and exhibited their work widely including 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 that would help 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.