Behind Closed Doors

A Material-Centered Analysis of Contemporary Graffiti Writings in situ from Sydney’s Recent Urban Past


  • Samantha Jane Edwards-Vandenheok Swinburne University of Technology



Graffiti, Materiality, Interior Space, Archaeography, Place, Digital Heritage


Inner Sydney harbours a meshwork of built interiors that have been altered by graffiti production over the last decade. The majority of these sites are located in suburbs undergoing urban gentrification and conversion from light industrial to residential modes of occupation, and which have been transformed by the graffiti into hubs of creative subversion. Focusing in on the materiality, multimodality and transient nature of these sites and practices, this paper affords an effective reading of graffiti writings, mapped and framed in situ to further understand how place is constructed through the graffiti. A row of vacant Victorian terraces, 1–13 Parramatta Road, Annandale, provides the focus for this investigation. The central premise of this treatise is that graffiti’s transgression varies across spatio-temporal registers, modes of practice and material placements. Moreover, that the pre-liminal status of the interior affords a “playscape” for graffiti writers and artists to socialise, perform and practice their crafts removed from the tight controls of the street. 1–13 Parramatta Rd also embeds evidence of purposeful experimentation and instances of impromptu visual play, where the graffiti appears responsive to the material and relational aesthetic of its surroundings.


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Author Biography

Samantha Jane Edwards-Vandenheok, Swinburne University of Technology

Samantha Jane Edwards-Vanderheok is a Lecturer in Communication Design and Photomedia at Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne.


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How to Cite

Edwards-Vandenheok, S. J. (2019). Behind Closed Doors: A Material-Centered Analysis of Contemporary Graffiti Writings in situ from Sydney’s Recent Urban Past. Journal of Contemporary Archaeology, 2(2), 309–327.



Research Article