CUTBACK: Is a multi-platform web and feature documentary produced between 2011-2014 as a creative doctorate research project.

In 2011 the redevelopment of the derelict Harold Park train sheds in Glebe, Sydney, Australia raised my curiosity about the right to artistic expression in Sydney’s public and private spaces. Sixty years of work, an unofficial historical archive of graffiti and street art, was whitewashed without public or artist consultation. The tram sheds were an unattributed artists’ gallery.  I become curious, Who were the artists and why were they silent?

During the research phase of this project questions were raised about the contradictory attitudes and practices of local councils in relation to street art in the city.  Is the cleaning of walls a denial of democratic public expression? Who values this work and is it a form of contemporary art? Is street art and graffiti important and to whom? Who makes graffiti and street art, tags, stencils, paste-ups, stickers? Why do they seek anonymity? 

This documentary project is not seeking to answer those questions but to instead, to enable artists to express their views and thoughts on their evolving art practices and attitudes to their work. Arguably, creativity is the texture that provides depth to a community and a democracy.

As an advocate for participatory democracy, this project will continue to grow as more participants contribute to this debate.

CUTBACK web project is an exploration of artist-led video portraiture and video documentation presented as an online documentary, designed for self-navigation across four themes: Artists, Places, Collectives and People.  The one hour documentary feature premiered in Sydney and Melbourne in December 2014.

Thank you to all artists and contributors who generously shared their stories and worked with me. I am indebted and humbled – the street has opened up to me.


Rachel Bentley
December 2014