ANDREA’S REASON FOR DEVELOPING EXHIBITIONS
INSTALLATIONS AROUND HER WORK
Working as a costume designer in filming has led me to integrating
my passion for the ‘art and crafts’. People collect paintings but crafts
have evolved for practical reasons so be it household goods or
clothing by their very nature they are either used or are pointless.
‘Power of Hands’ is about using hands to show beauty not cruelty.
I started the concept of ‘Power of Hands’ 6 years ago, through this
mindset and started considering how my exhibitions could look to
protect the crafts and people who struggle to survive today.
Stars have participated in helping me by giving their time to be filmed
and photographed independently of the film production so show how,
at a time when we need to address how as a consumer we can
improve the planet – my series ‘Romance and Reality’ can help.
Via photography and In The BBC’s 2008 production of “Miss Austen
Regrets” for which I was the costume designer I have used Olivia
Williams as Jane Austen and Imogen Poot’s as Fanny and
photographed and filmed to both their’s and Jane Austen’s spirit to
help solve the plight of the people along the coast in Sri Lanka and
their struggle to survive today ‘The Power of Hands Galle Lace
Project’ is there to help build a better future for the women.
THE JANE AUSTEN CENTRE
At ‘The Jane Austen Centre’ the exhibition I have installed uses the space
to provides sets, costumes and a fifteen minute edit of my film ‘Romance
and Reality’ which cuts to extracts from ‘Miss Austen Regrets’ and shows
the viewer how I am linking film to the debate on how I use my costumes
to connect to protecting lifestyle and the horrors trading threw up in Jane
Austen’s time and still today where people loose both their income and
way of life.
I compare and debate lifestyle past and present through the writer Jane
Austen who in reality dealt with severe money problems did not have the
staff one would expect such a household to maintain.
The stars Olivia Williams and Imogen Poots are photographed within this
exhibition to show how my costumes and fashion collections connect with
their skills to the world of Jane Austen and the glamour of film.
The point of this is to develop a coming together of people who feel
lifestyle should be considered in their wardrobe today. In this exhibition I
am highlighting the hand made bobbin lace now being produced by the
women through my project.
Working on screen adaptations of the novels has given me the luxury of
visiting heritage sights and buildings which relate to the world of luxury
living and to ponder the fact that she witnessed the tough living conditions
of the poor and the wealth of those she knew.
As was the case then and is today it takes time to change trading
BBC FILM ‘MISS AUSTEN REGRETS’
The BC film ‘Miss Austen Regrets’ presents Jane Austen as a woman of
passion and as such is shown as a woman we ourselves can relate to in
present times. The costumes I have made for the characters are designed
to suit the actors playing the parts of real people, so not in anyway did we
try to recreate Jane Austen as seen in what little reference there is.
So the production intentionally allow the viewer to enjoy but not feel
overpowered by costumes which easily look contrived when you try to
recreate exact copies.
This production ‘Miss Austen Regrets’ is set in the latter part of her life
and the production reflects a low-key mood and shows her passion and
less ostentatious lifestyle than one associates with her books.
I link my the film ‘Romance and Reality’ to this film with footage shot at
Ham House with Olivia Williams where I use the theme of hands, writing
and playing instruments to bring haunting connections where music fuses
with the written word and transports us to another worlds ending with
footage shot in Sri Lanka where the girl in the red dress is a crafts person
who is struggling to help find the money to secure a home to replace the
one they lost in the Tsunami and earning a maximum of 75 pence a day
when I met her in January. Now attached to POH project where we look to
raise funds for the present group of 100 women to secure a minimum of
£2.50 a day and build a solid future through their skills.
FILMS, EVENTS AND CATALOGUES ARE DEVELOPING
THROUGHOUT THE YEAR
Events in Bath will develop throughout the year around various topics. We
will film those who wish to be included in the film to be screened during
the Jane Austen festival.
Hair/ make up and costume will be organized by Andrea from the Jane
Austen Centre in the coming months – those wishing to partake should
leave their details - cost based on 10 people per session who will be
edited into the film £500.
TOPICS TO BE COVERED AT HIGH TEAS HELD AT THE JANE
1) BOBBIN LACE
Since the 16th century hand made bobbin lace was a craft women were
taught at home, it has and still is the case that poor women and children
produced it to make a living worked from home as did their children, their
living and working conditions were and in Sri Lanka are extremely harsh,
the pay and working hours appalling and today we no longer have such a
workforce of women in the UK.
During the 19th century industrialization in the UK brought about a
massive collapse of local lifestyle and the production of clothing. But the
transition for these people who had no other way of surviving lead to
hunger, death and massive upheavals on where and how they could live.
My film and fashion collections since starting the post Tsunami project
with the lace makers in Galle focus on showing the beauty of the bobbin
lace and addressing their dilemma. The new lace produced by POH can
now build sales and awareness products developing under the wing of
ethical fair trade.
We raise the debate on why jabots still worn in ceremonies to day both
legal and state should wear the lace instead of cheap machine lace a
significant profile in the city could immediately raises funds for the project.
Handloom weavers in India in the 19th century wove for the Maharajas but
today are redundant in mass production.
I commissioned women weavers in India to produce fabrics for my 19th
century film work and these fabrics which are woven in cotton and silk
have been used in the BBC production of:
Trollope’s ‘He Knew He Was Right’, Dickens Bleak House, ITV’s
adaptation of Jane Austen’s Persuasion and currently BBC’s ‘Miss Austen
MAKE UP PRODUCTS
Wig making is an essential craft in filming and is a fascinating subject as
is the use of make-up. The modern technique of ventilating (attaching
hairs to a net foundation) was developed in the 18th century. Other
techniques tried at this time included the use of pig or sheep bladders to
simulate baldheads. Elaborate hair pieces were very popular in Jane
Austen’s time and make up products included lead, hair and make up
artists in filming are an essential to any actor and with high definition film
(digital) becoming the norm every detail is sharp and it is extremely
difficult to get the moody look achievable with film. Making sure an actor is
not allergic to skin products is an essential part of make up on camera
and blemishes expectable in every day life become unacceptable on
Silk was and still is the best fabric to display wealth and luxury living and I
use a lot of silk in my costume work. I marvel at the look and techniques
of fabrics woven in the past and the history of weaving and those who
struggle to survive doing it is a fascinating subject.
In the 18th century, the industry was threatened by a new fashion for
wearing printed calico, from India. This led to riots in June 1719, when
4,000 Spitalfields weavers rampaged through the city, attacking any
women they saw wearing calico. They ripped the women's calico dresses
and splashed them with ink. It took the troops two days to restore order.
The Spitalfields silk weaving industry continued to decline following the
introduction of mechanized weaving in the mid-18th century. By the mid-
19th century, this was one of the poorest parts of London. Charles
Dickens, who visited Spitalfields in 1851, described its “squalid streets,
lying like narrow black trenches... where sallow, unshaven weavers...
prowl languidly about, or lean against posts, or sit brooding on doorsteps.”
The last record of the silk industry in Spitalfields was of four weavers in
Fournier Street in 1930
From the silk lace collection I have developed in Galle I now used it in
many ways for my film work including the wedding dresses worn by Jane
Eyre (played by Ruth Wilson) and Fanny’s wedding dress in ‘Miss Austen
Regrets’ played by Imogen Poots.
Collections available to the public include bridal wear.
THINGS IN DEVELOPMENT – NIGHTIES, CHRISTENING ROBES,
LACE GARTERS AND CHOKERS
Lace making, embroidery, knitting and sewing were a normal training for
girls in the 19th century who were expected to produce samplers and
garments to a standard which is no longer valued. Jane herself made her
clothes and no doubt purchased products where as is the case today her
lack of funds would have prohibited her from worrying to much about the
working conditions. Did she herself make her clothes out of necessity or
because of lack of funds to employ others to make them?
With the natural destruction of craftspeople through the ages we consider
the plight of the lace makers in Galle.
Power of Hands is a foundation dedicated to the preservation of traditional
We use it to link the history of lace and the lace maker’s plight in Galle
POWER OF HANDS GALLE PROJECT 2008
I returned from Galle 3rd February and there is an updated report on this
project and the women’s needs available to anyone who feels they can
help them and the project,
I am setting up a charity to raise funds for these women and others and
from The Jane Austen Centre we will in the coming year be holding a
series of fund raising exhibitions and events.
Please look at the website for details and email if you wish to be kept
We will be developing installations/ exhibitions and events this year, which
will raise money for the charity, needs of the women in Galle.
My focus on Power of Hands projects is looking at how design in film and
fashion can educate and develop ethical, organic fair trade.
FOOTAGE AND STILLS COVER:
Presently lack of funds to build suitable homes and facilities hinders the
Galle crafts women to prove their ability to focus on earning a living from
their skills. Currently filming Poirot and Miss Marples where I am
connecting lifestlye in the 30’s and 50’s to POH.
EVENTS FROM JANE AUSTEN CENTRE
1) Screening of the film Andrea has produced to connect to the
writer Jane Austen ‘Romance and Reality’. Andrea leads the
debate and Invites actor and audience to join the debate on
how this project is working and connecting to others who
feel they can become pro-active in this project.
2) Screening of ‘Miss Austen Regrets’
3) Fabrics / Weaving
4) Lace making and trims
5) Make up / Hair and wigs
7) Grand event in evening dress to be held in Bath – Dinner with
lace theme, screening of the film ‘ cat walking the world’
linking to those show their support.
CAPTIONS FOR PICTURES INCLUDED:
Anusha’s (Srilankan who has lived in Galle all her life and is handling ‘The
Power of Hands’ comments on the Power of Hands project:
“POH is giving the women a chance to see their work used as an art form,
this form of lace making is one of the worlds oldest arts craft. Putting it
into films has brought it alive today” and this it as one of the best Tsunami
relief Projects ever founded in on the south coast.
To date she adds “ The Power of Hands project realized the value of the
dead art. I think she is the best artist I have seen in my life.
The images of the women are part of the co-op of women assessed by
“Power of Hands “
The designs and samples you see in this exhibition are being sold at
prices where they will receive a fair wage for their work.
The hearts etc you buy feed back funds to the project .
In most of the families the men are fishermen and all are still suffering
from the after effects of the Tsunami and the current political situation in
The ladies have to work from home and their living conditions are not
adequate. This project protects not only values the craft it also looks to
protect the lifestyle of those doing it today, it is valuable art but if they
cannot sell their products they must find an alternative future for
themselves and we look to help them within the project via our
GALLE LACE MAKERS / FISHERMANS HOUSE IN WELLIGAMA
Welligama and the area was seriously hit by the Tsunami, not only are
these people struggling to retain the lives they had before the wave, since
the problems are worse and there are no experts to help with severe
problems within their homes.
The house photographed and filmed is owned by the lacemaker ( holding
the child) and her fisherman husband, he was caught in the wave and
they didn’t see him for 2 days, their house was filled with water, they have
received $1,000 (a Swiss donation) and are presently left with impossible
damp, no further advise or funds. Such people as this family are relying
on The Power of Hands’ project to help them further.
6 people are living in that house and the main workroom is dark, damp
and it also there work room is in their living space and cramped
bedrooms. The husband works at night and in the day the women use the
front room as a workshop, it is dark and they have not got good facilities
to work and the child who is 3 years old doesn’t go to school until she is 6
POH looks to find funds to build up a workshop in the area where
facilities, crech etc are included, only through such a programme can they
develop the skills o making of crafts to a sellable standard in the West.
The women need all sorts of guidance and human care from the West to
build a future for themselves and families. We need a central building in
each area constructed to work for making of crafts.
They desperately need expert advice and training from the West.
At a time when the West is reconsidering the value of the crafts and it’s
effect on lifestyle it is a pity if these people have to give it up
POH needs to maintain a minimum wage of Rs 350 per day (£1.50) to
protect them in their vulnerable position today. Goods we sell feed in a
profit which goes back into the project.
A budget of around £500 per person on the project transforms their future.
PROJECT I HAVE SET UP FOR THIS YEAR
I am now getting the women to work on a series of patchwork bed throws,
which will highlight their skills. They include, embroidery, lace making,
crochet and tatting.
The sampling is being carried out in 4 areas where the crafts women live,
this will give a story and picture of how each group survives and their
These are women who have now spent 2 years being assessed by POH
for their lace making skills and this project will give them a chance to show
the breadth of their skills and help them to think creatively about the lace
I am hoping that by combining lace making and other skills in the
cushions and bedspreads not only will it be more rewarding; it will provide
broader focus for sales around ethical fair trade and the crafts.
We raise money and awareness to the project via the products sold
behind the heart you buy is the story of the women’s lives and people can
either buy them singularly or lace by the metre, those interested or who
have the skills themselves can become pro-active in this programme
providing the buyer a way of supporting life style outside of mass
I see it as a way that people in the West can be pro-active in quilt making
themselves and this way enjoy and value the crafts themselves.
The motifs within the bedspreads will be for sale, squares can be bought
individually with the story of the woman making it attached and what
money we need to raise for each person.
GIRL IN RED DRESS
I took this young girl who is a crafts person in desperate circumstances
and used her to model my collection at The Lighthouse Hotel in Galle
which includes the lace and profiles a jacket which is part of an AG
collection now ready to be sold to women who look to reflect their support
for ethical fair trade.
This collection is designed to appeal to the professional woman buying at
the top end of fashion retail today. Profits will raise money for the project.
Name - Nilanka Wijayanthi
Her date of Birth is 1984.08.02 and she is 23 years old.
Address No 189/4A , Wawaethire pitta, Kaburegamuwa, Mathara.
She is dependant on her mother and father and has to travel 2hrs on a
bus to collect her work.to collect .
When I arrived she was working on an order for a company who have
placed a large order with the women but are not paying them a fair price
for their work.
The most she could possibly earn in a day doing this order is 75 pence a
day and they need to earn at least double that to survive at all.
POH is immediately giving her work to replace the current work she is
Her parents have a dept to pay off and her mother is working as a
They had to borrow more money her brothers funeral and are now looking
after her sister, they need funds to build the new house to replace the
home they had before the Tsunami, and they were living inside.
Her father has no work (Srilankan men caught up with Tsunami didn't get
any money from the Government if they lived in the main family house
and it do not belongs to them), as was the case with them.
POH currently has only one work shop in Galle and if we aim to raise
funds for have work shops in the other areas of the country (Walligam,
Mirresa, and tagalle) Then the ladies do not need to travel to Galle. It is
an extra expense and inconvenience the to bear a travelling to the base
in Galle and takes them a day..
Many of the ladies are old and are unable to come to Galle fort all the way
from those areas. We want to include these women in the project not only
do they need help they also have the knowledge of old designs.
If charity donations are raised we will be able to help those with needs but
we cannot rely on that so we need to build the turnover which will build
funds for developments / home improvements etc.
Clearly it is very upsetting that Tsunami funds have been wasted due to
lack of co-ordination but we must show how a project based on providing
peace and security to children will provide a safe haven for those who
hate the destructive mindset of those using violence as a means of
control. I just read an extract a book written by Benazir Bhutto which is
soon to be published. In it she says:
'The militants take advantage of parents of low income social classes who
want a better life for their children. If parents are so poor they cannot
educate,house,clothe, feed and provide healthcare for their children and
the state fails to provide such basic human needs through public services,
they will seek an alternative.
I am committed to the belief that most of the people in the world would
stand up and agree with this statement but it is proving to be hard to
Power of Hands this year will trade goods and raise money from its charity
wing to improve the women’s living and working conditions.
Any donations and profits go back into the project. Presently it is costing
me much more to keep it going than the return but this will change if sales
Special thanks :
BBC for allowing me to connect 'Miss Austen Regrets' to helping raise
awareness to the women in Galle
Dave Baldock for his continued enthusiasm in developing a broader
approach to the life of Jane Austen and how filming connects today.
Olivia Williams and Imogen for putting in the time to link past to present
and the project
Chris Bissell for shooting fantastic stills which link the stars to past and
present with collections showing the potential of the lace today