In 2016, Idle Women were awarded the Arts Council Ambition For Excellence award with partners Heart of Glass & Anu Productions. This lead to the launch of the major art project Helen – a three-year programme of events and activities – of which Power Tools is the concluding work.
Through working with local women as well as within a women’s refuge, we recognised a need for a dedicated women’s space in St Helens.
Recovery is complicated and a place to ‘tear the house apart’ is integral to starting a new.
Together, many of us deconstructed a town centre building and reimagined ourselves and all the possibilities.
All work, from demolition through to bricklaying, electrics, and plumbing was to be done alongside professional tradeswomen, learning these new skills through workshops and having a go. We built the Idle Women Institute, at Haydock Street in St Helens, UK. A space that at one stage was to become permanent.
Power Tools emerged as an online legacy of this liberating three-year programme of arts and construction activities; all the videos were shot at the Idle Women Institute
Presenting Power Tools
The full series of Power Tools videos are available to view on youtube and vimeo
The films were launched at Cineworld, St Helens in 2019
The project formed the basis of a micro residency on the Ikon Gallery Slow Boat in Birmingham in collaboration with Hope women's project in 2019
Power Tools was exhibited at First Site Gallery (2020) and Newlyn Exchange (2020)
To arrange a screening or to exhibit the films contact us.
Make your own
We've compiled all the components and guidance you need to Make your own Power Tools film
Women involved in creating Power Tools
Suzanne Dempsey-Sawin, Adelaide Bannerman, Alana Jelinek, Alberta Whittle, Anna Hart, Anna Smith, Arooje Butt, Bedford Fabrics staff, Candice Purwin, Charmian Griffin, Cheryl Anderson, Cis O’Boyle, Claire Walmsey Griffiths, Cllr Jeanie Bell, Collette Mara, Crin Claxton, Deni Francis, Diane Mills, Dina Rončević, Dr Maeve Malley, Ella Anderson, Emma Blackburn, Farzana Chand, Firoza Mohmed, Francesca Castellano, Geraldine Esdaille, Gina Mara, Hattie Hasan, Janette Scott, Jean McEwan, Jesse Presley Jones, Jessie Leong, Jill Raymond, Julie Scahill, Kariima Ali, Laura Healey, Laurie Peake, Lindsey West, Liv Proctor, Liz Cross, Lynn Froggett, Lynn-marie Dennehy , Maria Carroll, Maryam Patel, Mica May, Misbha Khan, Mojisola Adebayo, Morayo Sodipo, Nao Nagai, Natasha Gordon, Nicole Flanagan, Parveen Butt, Posy Dixon, Rachel Anderson, Rachel Brewster-Wright, Raksha Patel, Refugee Women Connect (formerly MRNG), Rehmat Hasham, Salma Saleh, Sara Nesteruk, Selina Thompson, Shakeela Miah, Shamim Nawaz, Shazia Khan, Sheree Angela Matthews, Sheri Jones, Split Britches, St Helens Mind Women’s Group, St Helens Refuge staff, Sue @ FlexFitness, Sue Hopkinson, Uzma Kazi, Verity Wolstenholme, Victoria Tea rooms staff , WAST Choir Manchester, Women from The Landrover Group, Women from the Survival Skills workshop, Yasmin Namaji
Women in St Helens and at Humraaz started to come forward with things they wanted to learn like how to ride a bike, how to change a light bulb, how to lay a laminate floor, how to hang a chandelier. As we were working these things out, we would discuss the barriers we face. Older women said that they didn’t get a chance to learn practical skills in school, other than cooking and sewing, and were elated to get to grips with a drill. There were discussions about how these jobs were for men but also the reality that being dependent on those men can lock women into cycles of violence.
As the women working on the project learned these skills, they recorded the videos to pass on that knowledge. A valuable resource for anyone taking up DIY to pass the time in lockdown. – Augusta Pownall, The Observer, 20 Jun 2020