Author Dylan Hyde on why the launch of his new book about the Perth Workers’ Art Guild, Art Was Their Weapon, at the Labour History Conference this October will be a special moment for him

Art Was Their Weapon: The History of the Perth Workers’ Art Guild is Dylan Hyde’s first book with Fremantle Press, and is a comprehensive look at this radical and creative organisation.

The book will be launched at the Australian Society for the Study of Labour History Conference 2019 on Saturday 5 October by Janet Holmes à Court at the Old Trades Hall on Beaufort Street from 5.30 pm, with books available to purchase on the night. Booking is not required, and all are welcome.

Here Dylan explains why this book is so important, and what it means to him to be launching it here in Perth, Western Australia.

‘This book has been a long time in gestation. For me it was a surprising story and it should serve to fill one of many gaping holes in the record of Perth’s political and arts history. I’m thrilled that Fremantle Press have supported it and couldn’t be happier with them as my publisher given my long-held admiration for their work.

‘The Workers’ Art Guild was a broad and audacious cultural venture rooted in radical left-wing politics that encompassed theatre, art, architecture, music and writing, and resulted in the confluence of radical political expression and great art in one of the most isolated cities in the world at one of the most turbulent times in history. The Guild was the progressive intellectual hub of Perth in the 1930s, a forum for the expression of ideas hitherto never heard in the city, before the war fractured the experiment and scattered its players.

‘Workers’ Art Guild performances were electric and the Guild galvanised and divided Perth. Its influence was substantial and it was seen as a real threat to Perth’s conservative establishment. The political response was fairly brutal.

‘It was happenstance that brought together some of the country’s most adventurous, radical and gifted artists and intellectuals. It was constituted by a broad ensemble and had their orbit been anywhere other than Perth, they would have been written more substantially into history.

‘I’m really looking forward to returning to my childhood home town, an all too rare occasion for me nowadays, to revisit the story and its characters.

‘Janet Holmes à Court and her husband Gilbert George have a close personal connection to the story and I’m flattered that they’ve agreed to launch the book. I’d love to see you all there.’

Art Was Their Weapon: The History of the Perth Workers’ Art Guild by Dylan Hyde will be available in October from all good bookstores and is available to pre-order online now at

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

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