Behind the Lines – The year in political cartoons at the Museum of Australian Democracy Old Parliament House

Privacy Concerns – Mark Knight Herald Sun 20 April 2020

One of the annual exhibitions that ticks lots of boxes for me is the Behind the Lines one. This puts maybe 100 of the best political cartoons of the year up on the walls of the Old Parliament House. The curators group the cartoons in broad categories in large formats with brief context commentary for visitors to absorb. It is a laugh, it is tough and the creative beauty of the cartoonist’s art is riveting. Seeing a year in review reminds the viewer of the issues that are short term and those which continue. It is well worth a look and is on till November. There is a $2 entry charge for Old Parliament House and the following link is to a website with a video for the Cartoonist of the Year Cathy Wilcox

Premier and the Pen @ State Library of Victoria

I love little targeted exhibitions. On a visit to the State Library of Victoria recently I walked through their large exhibition on books in history and encountered a small exhibition about the relationship between a Premier and the political cartoonists. It was a delightful collection of cartoons of a series of Victorian Premiers with fascinating textual stories about the relationships and contexts of the cartoons and the Premiers. It gave an insight into a past era but pointed to an important ongoing part of our modern society.

A link to a talk that was held that includes one of the cartoons.

Bald Archy Exhibition @ Watson Arts Centre

An annual prize for caricature portraiture as a parody of the Archibald prize has been going for decades. Each year it comes to Canberra and I love it. The artists look at the national dialogue for the year and produce paintings that parody the people and the issues that have occupied the press and the citizens.

This year there are participants such as Hanson, Turnbull, a collection of sports people, entertainers and other prominent types. They run a people’s choice award and that focuses the mind on how well the artists represent the issues and the personalities.

My favourite was a Violet Trumble in the wonderful purple. background. The most constant and reproduced person was Hanson and many of the images are not complimentary  They have a no photography of the images so I have attached a couple of gallery shots and the sheet put out for intended purchasers.

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Behind the Lines 2016 @ Museum of Australian Democracy

The art of cartooning is one of the great contributions to political understanding and analysis. Funny and profound are often mixed together in one space. Each year the Museum of Australian Democracy hosts a large collection of Australian political cartoons of the previous year on their walls for visitors to see clustered in topical sets.

I love these as an exhibit. It is exciting to see the differences and the similarities. They have samples of lots of cartoonists and many examples of some of the best such as Rowe. They sell the set in a paperback book but to me there is something different about standing and reading them on a wall. I enjoy it and will go back again.

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Eko Negroho – Lot Lost @ Art Gallery of NSW

This exhibition features a diverse set of artworks in several genres. There is a few paragraphs of the blurb I found helpful.

With its distinctive fusion of styles and influences, the art of Eko Nugroho defies categorisation.

Working across drawing, painting, sculpture, animation and embroidery, this acclaimed Indonesian artist draws inspiration from Javanese traditions such as wayang theatre and batik, as well as street art, science fiction, comic books and other forms of popular culture.

His immersive installation Lot lost 2013-15 takes us to the streets of Yogyakarta, the artistic and revolutionary capital of Indonesia where Nugroho has been based for the past two decades. The work presents a finely attuned, darkly humoured and – as always – wildly imaginative look at everyday life and politics in Indonesia.

The works vary from cartoon style creations on the floor to large single colour statues that look like Michelin men, through crocheted or needle point rug hangings. When I was there there were lots of young kids creating in the space inspired by the artist’s work.

Pics below gives a sense of Negroho’s art

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The Changeover @ Australian Parliament House

11 February – 18 May 2016

There is a delightful pop up exhibition upstairs at the Australian Parliament House to reflect on the 50th anniversary of the introduction of decimal currency to Australia. It has wall panels featuring the delightful cartoon figure of Dollar Bill and his devotion to educating Australians about the new currency system. There is an abundance of ephemera used to engage the broader public and address issues of understanding and commitment to the project.

The exhibition has family board games, cups, glasses, posters and a single record of a jingle. As expected there are copies of the first sets of coins that were issued with some of the souvenir packs included. The exhibition is created by the Royal Australian Mint. Below are a set of pics that show some of the elements of the display. The link below is for the APH page for exhibitions.

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Behind the Lines 2015 @ Museum of Australian Democracy

The annual marvelous exhibition of the best of Australian political cartoons has opened at the Museum of Australian Democracy. These creatives always inspire entertain and educate. The curators lay them out in subject areas to show both the different takes and the similarities that flow through the artists. The magic of cartoons is they combine humour and confrontation, They expose absurdity and poke holes in hubris.

The exhibition now is housed in the lower square of corridors under Kings Hall in the Old Parliament House. It is put up and left up for the year and so I often pop in for revisits.

There is a book for purchase and the website below has all the cartoons in their subject categories.

I have a couple of pics below for my own records but the website is better.

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The Bald Archy Prize @ Watson Arts Centre

There are few art shows in Canberra that I go to where the gallery is full of people. Each time at the Bald Archy Prize there is a crowd no matter what time I go on the weekend. People laugh, ask questions, talk to their kids and express views as they move in among all the pictures and the crowd.

This year Ms Lambie of the Palmer United Party is the star of the biggest number of pictures. She sure stirred the hearts of the painters. I have attached the price list but as the best way to see these is out at the gallery in all their often glorious garish colour schemes

This exhibition is fun and if it borders on cruel at times it is particularly important in the year of Charlie Hebdo and the Paris exhibition at the NGA.

The website for the Bald Archy Prize is

A Canberra Times article has some good pics of the works – the general public is not allowed to take pics in the gallery.

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Mambo – 30 years of shelf indulgence @ National Gallery of Victoria Federation Square

Mambo is fun. Whenever I look at something to do with their work I get the idea that it must be a fun place to work. Their artworks often have a serious side to them but you never get the idea that they take themselves too seriously. To walk into the NGV Federation Square gallery and spend an hour with a collection of 30 years of their art and production is to leave with a sense of exuberant thankfulness for a unique form of creativity.
Curators have brought together a time line, surf boards, clothing, posters, cartoons, sculpture, video, wall art and lots of other objects decorated with distinctive Mambo style creativity. The story that is told is inspiring and uplifting because of the rich creativity it explains and exposes.
There is no Mambo log. They use the word in a myriad of changing forms. There are core members of the project but I think I read that they have used 250 graphic designers over their time. While they have generated lots of clothing they are not a clothing company. They have done lots with surf paraphernalia but they never became a surf company. Mambo has always been about the art and the remarkable thing is that it has a style that is recognisable but it has stayed fresh through constant reinvention and morphing.
I go to lots of exhibitions and the thing that keeps me going is surprise. I was aware of Mambo. I had no real idea of the range and scope of their art and their creativity. Every panel, every shirt, every board tells of a quirky sense of fun combined with a delight in poking in a stiring way at important comfortable parts of our society.
It was great to see the gallery full of people ranging from the frail aged to the primary school aged all seeming to enjoy asking questions of the art and pointing out to each other interesting features.
Web site
Some pictures below give a sense of Mambo











Behind the Lines 2014 @ Museum of Australian Democracy

For a political junkie like me this exhibition is loads of fun. The best 80 political cartoons of the last year are on walls with brief explanatory notes about creator and context. I always admire cartoonists for their ability to cull down the daily political carry on into a single insightful image. Cartooning in Australia is a competitive field and it produces some remarkably talented people and product.

Eighty samples chosen by some criteria from a craft that produces each year, many cartoons each day in many media outlets. They are a funny and disturbing set.  I could not get through them all in an hour so I will call in when I go to MOAD for other reasons during the year.  These cartoons stay on display for the year. There is an inexpensive paperback book available with the set iin them.

The website for the exhibition is below:

A few samples are below:

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