Australia’s Best 2016 Political Cartoons On Show At Old Parliament House


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From the hilariously astute to the stark and thought-provoking — the year’s best political cartoons are about to go on show at Old Parliament House in Canberra.

Hosted and curated by the Museum of Australian Democracy, the annual Behind the Lines exhibition showcases the work of cartoonists from across the country who are at the very top of their game.

Fairfax Media’s Cathy Wilcox took out the exhibition’s top gong for political cartoonist of the year.

“The nice thing about this award is that it’s recognition for a body of work,” Ms Wilcox said.

“It lends a little weight to the cartoons, which go out every day and just disappear into the ether … [it’s] a nice reward for that daily grind.”

Alan Moir, Chris ‘Roy’ Taylor, Chris Downes, David Rowe, David Pope, First Dog on the Moon and John Kudelka are just some of the other cartoonists with work featured in the exhibition

Ms Wilcox said the past 12 months in politics, both in Australia and abroad, had provided a wealth of material for her and her colleagues.

But in some ways, she said, it made the job harder.

“It’s been a really intense thinking year for me, to try and work through some of these issues, and try to distil them down,” she said.

“We’re already talking about being a post-satire world a year ago … but what we’ve just witnessed with the American election, and all that’s going on — and who knows what’s coming after that.

“We’re post-post-satire.”

‘Political destiny’ an exhibition theme

Exhibition curator Tania Cleary said there were many cartoons considered by the judging panel — but this year’s exhibition really zoned in on two major issues.

“They look at the Federal election and they look at the theme of political destiny,” she said.

“So that takes into account what’s happened in Europe, what’s happened in Britain, what’s happened in America.”

It what has been a turbulent decade or so for the media, dwindling jobs meaning fewer cartoonists.

But both Ms Cleary and Ms Wilcox agreed with the political landscape in such an unstable state here and internationally, the work of cartoonists was more valuable now than ever before.

“It’s a dangerous thing to be cutting down the number of people who are helping us make sense of what’s going on in the world,” Ms Wilcox said.

“It would be vain to think that I was playing any really important role, because people can think for themselves … but

I do get the sense from feedback, social media and elsewhere, that people actually do have a hunger for cartoons — for seeing the pomposity pricked and the falsehood overturned.”

Behind the Lines opens to the public in Canberra on November 30.

A second, travelling version of the exhibition will visit Gosford, Grafton, Parramatta, Melbourne Warrnambool and Adelaide, between December 9, 2016 and January 2018.

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