Idle Women (Rachel Anderson and Cis O’Boyle)

Initiated in 2015 as a new artistic collaboration between artists Cis O’Boyle and Rachel Anderson Idle Women is an arts and social justice project that creates vibrant and adventurous spaces with women. Idle Women works outside the institution in the North West to make collaborative work combining site-specificity, sculpture, performance, cross-sector partnerships and research.

Projects include constructing and touring a bespoke narrowboat, purchasing land with community partners Humraaz (BME refuge) to create the first physic garden in the UK dedicated to women, and working with women experiencing domestic violence in Merseyside through HELEN, a four-year process resulting in the deconstruction and reconstruction of a town centre building in St Helens.

Jerwood New Work Fund will support 18 months of R&D for new site-specific performance work Petrichor. The work will be created in the shadow of Pendle Hill, a significant site in the European witch hunts, and informed by research into the roots of gender-based violence, land enclosures, colonisation and systemic patriarchy. The project is driven by a need to reach deeper, to reconnect with a more ancient knowledge and with women’s rightful occupation of place and inclusion.

Using historical research, ritual, esoteric and traditional environmental practices in tandem with ancient women’s crafts and autobiographic evocation Idle Women will test a series of contemporary artistic treatments with older lesbian women in the lead up to a major new site-specific production planned for 2021.


Idle Women's Petrichor. Image: Anderson/O'Boyle