When Holden’s last factory, at Elizabeth in South Australia, closed in late 2017, an important era of Australian automotive production ended. At its peak Holden employed around 24,000 workers around Australia. Holden employees were diverse: workers of all ages, migrants, skilled and unskilled, professional, transient and long-term.
Holden & Me: Treasures from a Working Life tells the lives of people on the shop floor and in the offices at Holden. The exhibition was inspired by People, Places and Promises: Social Histories of Holden in Australia, an oral history project that is recording the stories, memories and experiences of 100 of the people who worked at Holden between the end of the Second World War and the closure of the Elizabeth plant. It features treasured objects brought along to these oral history interviews by many of the former Holden employees. Some were gifts from the company to mark working milestones, such as the traditional gold watch for 25 years of service. Others were connected to their day-to-day work, such as uniforms and tools.
Holden and Me: Treasures from a Working Life reminds us how our work can shape our identity, often for the duration of our lives.