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SURREY in dry dock

Date: 1903
Dimensions:
Overall: 2550 x 3080 x 40 mm
Display Dimensions: 2541 x 3080 x 63 mm
Medium: Oil paint, cotton duck, varnish
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from the Federated Ship Painters and Dockers Union of Australia
Classification:Art
Object Name: Painting
Object No: 00008558
Place Manufactured:Australia

User Terms

    Description
    This trade union banner painted by Edgar Whitbread in 1903 was commissioned by the Painters' and Dockers' Union of Port Jackson. The banner depicts the steamship SURREY in dry dock being painted. The Painters' and Dockers' Union of Port Jackson was one of the large militant unions which began in the early 1900s.
    SignificanceTrade Unions used banners such as this in the annual Eight-hour/May Day parades to promote issues that the union had won or proudly parade the work of its members. The highlight of the parades was each trade unions banner reflecting the struggles, achievements and aspirations of the movements.

    HistoryThis banner was originally a two-sided banner that featured an image of NIAGARA entering dry dock on the alternate side. Edgar Whitbread was commissioned by the Painters' and Dockers' Union of Port Jackson to paint the two banners in 1903.

    Whitbread's detailed studies of the varied work performed by the union workers in this painting were based on sketches he made at the work site. He completed most of the work in his studio in Lewisham, Sydney, before employing a seamstress to join the two banners and embroider it with a silk braid and tassels. In 1978 restoration work was undertaken on the banner and it was used in subsequent May Day marches until 1990.

    At its inception in January 1900 the Painters' and Dockers' Union was called the Balmain Laborers' Union. By August 1900, it had changed its name to the Painters' and Dockers' Union of Port Jackson, and eventually the Federated Painters and Dockers Union in 1909. The Union had strong connections with Balmain as most of its early members worked as casual or unskilled labourers at Morts Dock and Engineering Workshops in Balmain. The Union disbanded in 1991.
    Additional Titles

    Secondary title: United to Assist Not to Crush

    Assigned title: SURREY in dry dock

    Primary title: Federated Ship Painters' and Dockers' Union of Australia

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