Produced by the City of Sydney and Carriageworks
1917: The Great Strike marks the centenary of one of Australia’s largest industrial conflicts with an exhibition of historical objects alongside commissioned artworks by Raquel Ormella, Tom Nicholson, Will French, Franck Gohier and Sarah Contos.
The strike began when employees at Eveleigh Railway Yards and the Randwick Tram Sheds downed tools in protest against new working conditions imposed during a time of war. Around 5,790 railway and tramway employees walked off the job, protesting against the introduction of a card system that recorded work times and output, and was intended to improve worker efficiency.
Over the period of the strike it’s estimated that across the state around 77,350 workers went on strike. When the strike petered out in mid-September 1917, many employees at Eveleigh, and elsewhere on the NSW rail and tram network never got their jobs back. Those re-hired at the Eveleigh yards found their jobs had been downgraded. Although the nationwide strike lasted just six weeks, its consequences lingered for decades, creating a highly politicised workforce and a generation of politicians, including premiers and prime ministers.
The exhibition will use large-scale striking images, moving footage, oral history excerpts, music and poetry, alongside commissioned artworks to tell the story of a movement that started in the old Eveleigh railway workshops.
Artist talks: Saturday 15 July
Free floor talks by the artists commissioned to make new works for the exhibition. No bookings required.
- 10.30am – Franck Gohier
- 11am – Raquel Ormella
- 11.30am – Will French
- 12 noon – Sarah Contos
Community Day: Saturday 5 August
On Saturday 5 August, The Great Strike Community Day commemorates the centenary of this important historical moment and explores its contemporary resonances through artist talks, panel discussions, performances and workshops at Carriageworks.
Hear the Great Strike of 1917, an original podcast by the City of Sydney.