It's not often you get to see an art exhibition inspired by a famous industrial conflict, but that's exactly what's on offer at Carriageworks this month with 1917: The Great Strike. It's a free show that combines historical objects, oral testimonies, archival materials and commissioned artworks to commemorate the significant historical event that was The Great Strike of 1917.
Quick history lesson: The Great Strike actually began at the Eveleigh Railway Workshops (yep, what is now Carriageworks) and the Randwick Tram Sheds in August 1917 when over 5500 employees put down their tools to protest the new card system. In what became a six-week long statewide strike, an estimated 77,350 workers walked off the job. Many either never got their jobs back or received significant demotions, and the sociopolitical impact of the strike was still felt decades later.
Contemporary artists Sarah Contos, Will French, Raquel Ormella, Franck Gohier, Tom Nicholson and Andrew Byrne creatively respond to the strike, the unions, the workers and their families — including the vital role women played via public protest and on the home front — using everything from prints to textiles to patchwork quilts to a large-scale brass band performance. Co-curators Laila Ellmoos and Nina Miall have also scheduled artist talks, performances, workshops and panel discussions to get involved in.
Image: Raquel Ormella, 'Wealth for Toil' (2014).