“Working Class Heroes” is the working title for an exhibition of visual art works that acknowledge working people's contribution to the creation of society's wealth, culture, and collective well-being.
“Working Class Heroes” is being developed in collaboration with SERTUC's (South East Region Trades Union Council) “Cultural and Leisure Industries Committee” so as the integrity of the subject matter is not compromised and the event's organisation is assured.
The project will be working with professional curators with the aim to produce a large exhibition of works to be shown in a major national gallery. There may also be an ongoing series of travelling exhibitions, or site-specific works or ... evolution will be inclusive and progressive.
May 1st is “International Workers Day” - a day of celebration when workers rally together, commemorate their achievements, protest against continuing injustices and take the opportunity to remind each other of the need to continue fighting against oppression. 1 May was chosen to be International Workers’ Day to commemorate the ’Haymarket Riot’ which took place in Chicago USA on 3 May 1886 when workers picketing for the ‘8 hour day’ were killed. In 1904 The International Socialist Congress (Amsterdam) made May 1 a mandatory date when ‘proletarian organisations’ of all countries “stopped work, wherever possible, without injury to the workers”. In 1975 Britain, in a very “english” compromise, our ‘workers holiday’ was shifted by the Labour Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, to the first ‘Bank Holiday’ Monday in May. This broke the link with the universal celebrations of workers. In 1995, the Tories moved the Bank Holiday to the first Monday in May. However, thousands of Trade Unionists and political activists maintain May Day on the 1st of May, regardless of what day of the week it is, for marching and rallying together - and continue the fight to reinstate May 1st as a national holiday.
People come together in many ways to secure our basic rights in Society - whether in meetings, vigils, demonstrations, marches, pickets, or festivals. Historic expressions of solidarity amongst working people go back as far as the Peasants Revolt of 1381 and before. In the intervening centuries of struggle people have achieved universal suffrage and democratic representative organisation. Occasionally rulers legislate against people gathering in large numbers to show solidarity with each other. However big or small the gathering is or for whatever reason - it is important to continue to raise our collective voice. It shouldn’t be forgotten that these things which were so difficult to gain can so easily be lost...