Handsworth Currency Competition


To decide the 3 new Handsworth coin ‘Heads’, we decided to use the democratic platform of the open competition / public vote. Prior to this, 5000 project newspapers were distributed across Handsworth with a competition call out for ‘Heads’ nominations.

Between Monday 2nd March – Sunday 8th March, 1341 people took part in the online public vote. The three individuals with the highest number of votes were Merrise Crooks-Bishton, Bhai Sahib Mohinder Singh Ahluwalia and Mykal Brown. These three individuals were the ‘Heads’ for the new Handsworth coins.

It could be suggested that the predominance of white men in the history of Soho House gives local people little traction when imagining the relevance of this history to their own lives. The production of the coin artworks literally embeds a broader range of faces into the musuem’s archive.

Merrise Crooks-Bishton

Merrise Crooks-Bishton has been involved in literacy and community education work in Birmingham as teacher, publisher and consultant, for more than 40 years. She worked as Education Development Officer for Handsworth Alternative Scheme which was set up to assist the Probation Service to provide alternatives to custody for young black people living in Handsworth. She founded Handprint, a community education project based on Soho Road that published books which were culturally relevant to people of African Caribbean heritage. She also published a magazine called Survival produced with the help of womenliving and working in Handsworth.

Mykal ‘Wassifa’ Brown

WASSIFA is one of the UK’s most famous inner city Sound Systems established 1972 in Handsworth, Birmingham. Founder, selector and front man Mykal “Wassifa” Brown uses music as a platform to uplift, motivate and empower communities around the world.

Bhai Ji Bhai Sahib Mohinder Singh Ahluwalia

Bhai Ji Bhai Sahib Mohinder Singh Ahluwalia is Chairman and spiritual leader Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha, UK (GNNSJ). Under his leadership over the span of some twenty-five years, the Nishkam Group has become a major player in the social and economic development of Handsworth.