Idle Women work to women’s strengths. Our two-year inaugural touring project involved the design and build of a narrowboat with women living in refuge in Blackburn. The boat, which served as an artist-in-residence and workshop venue, toured to some of the least-served areas of the North West mooring alongside derelict factories and boarded up churches on the route of the post industrial canals. The women we met on the tour and the critical companionship of Silvia Federici (author Caliban and the Witch) articulated the importance of forging space for women’s relationship to land and the barriers and threats of violence that sever connection historically and in present day,
This experience informed our return to Lancashire and the purchase of canal side land in partnership with Humraaz Support Services (specialist support to Black and Minority Ethinic women who are experiencing domestic abuse and all forms of harmful traditional practices) and with funds raised by a crowdfunding campaign. The canal side garden which provides mooring for the narrowboat and dedicated space for women is the site of a seven year project to create the UK’s first physic garden built by and dedicated to women’s health and advancement
The legacy of our work with women exiting violence results in tangible resources. Power Tools for example is a series of 14 DIY videos by and for women everywhere developed from working in a Merseyside refuge where we learned it can take women an average of seven attempts to leave a violent partner, how one of the many ways the cycle of violence can begin again if a woman doesn’t feel confident to put up a curtain rail or seal a sink and invites ‘help’.
By working together to create spaces, we generate paid opportunities for women’s expertise as well as experiential learning, practical training, social space and opportunities to experiment and explore for all women. We fundraise for all our projects so that we can operate a gift economy, which means that we don’t charge but exchange reciprocity and care.
Idle Women was formed to address systemic lack of opportunity, low expectation and under representation of diverse women and to act against cuts to women’s services, refuges and resources. Sustainability, independence and longevity is at the heart of our work to make spaces that can’t be cut, closed or taken away.
We have a long standing partnership with Humraaz Support Services and work in collaboration with specialist women’s services so that women who navigate complex barriers lead the creation of spaces for women as they journey from crisis to a place of belonging.
All of our projects intersect, complement, are borne of hope and desire to connect deeply to our roots.
Our creative practice is rigorous, based on transformation, diverse collaboration and co-creation caring deeply that our practice effects change.
As we adapt our work in 2020 to navigate a new set of barriers we are expanding our reach by collaborating with a digital producer, returning to print, phone and post to remember our connections and developing broader reaching ways for women to belong.
Our upcoming projects include a Physic Garden Network, Medicinal herb school, Growing Knowledge and Shifting Loyalties.