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Building the Harbour Bridge I, beginnings



Jessie Traill


29 Jul 1881 – 15 May 1967

Artist profile

  • Details

    Other Title
    Building the Harbour Bridge No. I
    Place where the work was made
    Sydney New South Wales Australia
    Media category
    Materials used
    etching, foul bite, printed in brown ink with plate tone on cream wove paper
    24.5 x 36.4 cm platemark; 32.9 x 45.5 cm sheet (irreg.)
    Signature & date

    Signed and dated l.r. beneath platemark, pencil "JCA Traill 1927.".

    Purchased 1975
    Not on display
    Accession number
    © Estate of Jessie Traill/Copyright Agency

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Jessie Traill

    Artist profile

    Works in the collection


  • About

    Jessie Traill’s Building the Harbour Bridge series is her most significant achievement as an artist, and a remarkable record of what was then the largest and most ambitious engineering project in Australian history.

    Traill travelled from Melbourne to Sydney regularly between 1927 and 1932 to document the progress of the workers in
    drawings and watercolours, leading to this six-etching series and two aquatints of the bridge. She was given special access to the
    top deck to observe the workers, and felt herself an intrinsic part of the great national project. She wrote in 1929:

    What we see is a solid mass of concrete and intricate lacework of iron made more intricate by the play of light and shade;
    something that giants might play with as a child would with his Meccano set… In years to come when we dash over the Bridge
    in our taxi or take a “walk” across (which will be about a mile) to see our Harbour, we, who have watched it progress and sketched
    or photographed its parts, will feel with these workmen a sort of pride of possession, and it will be OUR BRIDGE too.

  • Places

    Where the work was made


  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 5 exhibitions

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 9 publications

Other works by Jessie Traill

See all 22 works