KnitwearCraftspace is an independent organisation working to increase opportunities for makers, as well as access to and participation in contemporary crafts for all audiences. 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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe project in Birmingham involved two community groups whose activities are specifically focused on craft. Young at Heart is a self supporting group of women aged 60+ who meet weekly at Sheldon Community Centre in Birmingham. The group have been going for 25 years, bringing women together with a specific focus on crafting for pleasure and sometimes for charity. Shelanu a refugee and migrant women’s collective and craft social enterprise who make jewellery to sell, inspired by the industrial heritage of Birmingham and their own cultures and experiences. They also facilitate creative workshops in the community. @shelanucraft

Showing workThe project in Birmingham focused on putting on record a ‘back story’ for craft and celebrating what has been achieved by two community groups in Birmingham. It was about recording local stories about craft and making that reside within places, people and the everyday. Recollecting stories and memories from childhood about crafting in families, how skills were/are handed down, types of craft activities and what  people made, where materials were/ are sourced from, why making things was/is an integral part of life. Also why the two groups were formed, how they operate and the place that craft has in their lives now. The two groups also met to share stories and exchange practical craft skills. The practical exchange took place around paper as a focus. Kiki from Shelanu demonstrated traditional Chinese origami folding and Elsie from Young at Heart demonstrated Iris – a traditional English paper folding technique. An outcome from the project is that Shelanu have since made use of and adapted the Iris technique and are making cards to sell which is helping them make a new income stream.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATo make the radio podcasts Craftspace worked with Felix Pepler from Chatterbox Creations and his colleague Arshia Riaz, a presenter from the BBC. Arshia Riaz worked with the two groups over several sessions to devise and construct their stories and shape them into a narrative for an edited podcast. She also provided a session of media awareness to develop their knowledge about the function of community radio, how to go about telling your story and the value of sharing your story with others.

(These links will take you to another link which you will have to click as well in order to listen. And then be patient, as it takes a while to load…)

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2 thoughts on “Birmingham

  1. It was such a brilliant experience working with both groups. The icing on the cake was being able to play out some of the podcast on BBC radio and getting some of the members on air for a live interview. All of the members from both groups were so warm and shared their stories brilliantly. I cant wait to see them all again very soon. Good luck Shelanu and Young At Heart. Thank you 🙂
    Arshia Riaz BBC WM

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