Shaana Derry was introduced to the Share Shack by a friend, she says before that she didn’t know it was there. After going in she began doing the Memory Art class with Joe, which runs every week on a Wednesday from 11-4. There Shaana started to make things, a large jigsaw piece, and a tree. She says it was a chance to catch up and spend time on herself, as she could come when her son was at nursery. It was also an opportunity for Shaana to reconnect with people after lockdown, the pandemic had left her, like many of us, very isolated.
Shaana says she was quiet, and lacked confidence when she first came in, that the idea of joining a class was scary and intimidating, but now the Share Shack is a place where she’s very comfortable. Being there joins you with other people, and it’s nice being part of the community. Outside of the classes, it’s a place you can come to if you need anything, even just a piece of toast and a hot drink. It’s a friendly space and it’s great for children, which is important, her son loves it.
Joe’s class piqued Shaana’s interest in art, and grew her confidence, so she then started going to another at the Ladywood Surestart Centre, Art and Wellbeing. The centre had the bonus of a creche which meant she could really concentrate on it, and Shaana discovered that she also enjoyed the meditation aspect. Joanne Tremarco ran that, and then worked with Shaana to create a large textile piece that would be displayed in the Library of Birmingham. The tree she’d made in the Memory Art Class was an inspiration for the final exhibition piece.
Their relationship continued and Shaana worked with Joanne at Friction Arts, as a support artist on workshops for a women’s empowerment project over six months. She taught some of the women how to print, and Joanne says just “shone” in that time. Some of the workshops were at the Share Shack, where the group made a Medusa head, which formed part of a procession for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls.
After this Shaana and Joanne were commissioned to produce a piece for the Small is Beautiful exhibition at Solihull Core. Again, Medusa was the inspiration, and again, the Share Shack was a space they could use to create the work.
Despite the exhibition’s name, their piece was so large it was positioned near the entrance, rather than in the exhibition itself. Handing Medusa her Head Back was an installation.
So, what now? Shaana says the future is training, finding funding, building on ideas, she might even come back to the Share Shack to teach classes. She’d like to carry on the theme of women’s empowerment, and to continue with workshops. Joanne is continuing to mentor her. In Shaana’s own words “I feel like I’m just taking off”.