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Film Completed   /  Joshua Marks

Wendy Sharpe: Site Unseen

Archibald winning Artist, Wendy Sharpe, creates a 40-metre mural that would never be seen.


Impact areas




  • DIRECTOR Joshua Marks

  • PRODUCER Judy Menczel



Multi-award winning artist Wendy Sharpe sketches, draws and paints her most personal work yet.

Inside the Sydney Jewish Museum, as their first artist-in-residence, Wendy draws her grandmother Bessie Cohen for the first time. We hear how Bessie used to sing the Yiddish song Vu iz dos gesele (Where is the little street)? The song is the title of the exhibition and is about looking for a place that no longer exists. Yiddish singer Fay Sussman sings it for Wendy.

On the opposite wall to Wendy’s grandmother, there’s a Ukrainian fortress next to a shtetl, the two are separated by a burning upside down house. Wendy’s family settled in England fleeing Ukrainian Pogroms (hate riots). The small Ukrainian town in 1941 became a place of mass Jewish killing, 23,000 in three days.

In 2019 Wendy and her cousin Ruth Fishman toured England and Ukraine to trace their family history. Wendy’s mural reflects more than just her physical journey, it’s her emotional response to uncovering her family history.

Sydney’s COVID lockdown coincided with the public’s only opportunity to see the mural.

Wendy liked the poetic nature of the destruction, mirroring the yiddish song and the work itself becoming a memory. But her desire was to share the mural and engage with the public before it was destroyed.

Major building works at the Museum have seen the mural smashed, cut through and painted over.

Wendy Sharpe: Site Unseen gives us the opportunity to experience Wendy's quirky personality, artistic process and the refugee experience through her intergenerational trauma.

A intimate glimpse into one of Australia's leading artists.

Producer: Judy Menczel
Producer/Director/DOP: Joshua Marks
Editor: Karly Marks
Composer: Sam Weiss
Photographer: John Deerfield

Support this project

16.86% funded
  • $137,760.00

  • $23,226.00

  • January 2023

  • 9

Minimum amount is $ Maximum amount is $





Yvonne Selecki $150.00
Anonymous $126.00
Anonymous (Offline) $22,000.00
Catherine Hunter $200.00
Jeanette Freeman $50.00
Ester Sarkadi-Clarke $120.00
Cheryl Hayman $200.00
Andrew Butterfield $200.00
Esther Di Veroli $180.00

Issue Summary

A short summary of the issue the documentary is addressing

Wendy's work relates to a loss of place and connection to the past.

Wendy speaks of how anyone who has been forced to leave their home could relate to her work.

History, Anti-Semitism, COVID, Self discovery and the therapeutic process of art. Memory and memorialisation.


What is the impact vision statement of the documentary?

As Wendy creates her 40 metre mural we discover not just a brilliant artist but a great storyteller. She invites into her process and her fascinating family history.

Through the stifling period of COVID Wendy perseveres and creates an inspiring artwork that will never be experienced.

From creation to destruction the mural is mosaic of stories that leads us to a past that we will never know.


What outcomes does the project hope to achieve from making this documentary?

We hope to help people connect to their own family history using creative means.


How will this documentary achieve its outcomes?

Through the enchanting personality and artistic talent of Wendy Sharpe we are taken on a journey of self discovery through history and artistic process.


How will partnerships with this project help inform the project development?

ABC Compass are airing our documentary on Sunday 1 May 2022. The Sydney Jewish Museum and the community are eager to see the Wendy Sharpe: Site Unseen as Wendy was the first Artist-in-residence for the Museum.

Audience Engagement and Social Impact

What actions does this project hope for its viewers after seeing this film?

We hope to stimulate creative outlets of intergenerational trauma.

Measurement and Evaluation

What is the projects indicators for success?

The film encourages the audience to open up a discussion on family history and intergenerational trauma. In Wendy's case dealing with these issues with honesty and creativity and showing us that our culture and history should be shared and celebrated.