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Art Was Their Weapon: The History of the Perth Workers' Art Guild

Written by Dylan Hyde


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The Workers’ Art Guild was a radical cultural and political force in Perth in the 1930s and 1940s, embracing new ideas in a provincial, isolated city.

The Guild’s innovative approaches to theatre and art were praised by critics, but its left-wing politics, influenced by the Communist Party of Australia, were denounced by many. Police and intelligence officers kept close tabs on the Guild, censoring its activities and intimidating and jailing its members in the lead-up to World War II.

Through the lives of its key players, such as writer Katharine Susannah Prichard and theatre maverick Keith George, Art Was Their Weapon illuminates a fascinating era in Western Australian history.


'Hyde’s book shows how even in a place as conservative and isolated as 1930s Perth, it is possible to use art, music and theatre as a means to inspire social change, whether in response to the Great Depression and the rise of fascism and war in the 1930s, or the many crises facing people and the planet today.' Green Left

'A short review cannot do justice to the way this detailed book develops the story, bringing to life the colourful and very individual characters of the time.' History West

'Art Was Their Weapon is rich in knowledge of cultural and political figures and events … It reminds us of the importance of the arts not only as a tool for creative expression but also as a means of unifying people via meaningful collaboration and participation.' Limina

ISBN 9781925815740 (Paperback)
Formats C Format (234 x 153mm) (Paperback)
Categories History
Current Affairs, Culture & Social History
Books for History Teachers
Publisher Fremantle Press
Edition 1st
Publication Year 2019
Pages 368
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    Dylan Hyde

    Dylan Hyde has a background in film and television production, and is the nephew of academic and public figure Sister Veronica Brady. The son of a scientist and a classics scholar, he was born in the United States and raised in Perth before emigrating to Melbourne in his late teenage years. He has an ongoing interest in historical research and writing, specifically in the areas of art and political history. His previous writings on the Workers’ Art Guild include an article published in Papers in Labour History (Australian Society for the Study of Labour History, No. 18, March 1997) and a short piece in the Historical Encyclopedia of Western Australia (UWA Press, 2009). Read more