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Behind The Lines

David Rowe. The Killing Season. Australian Financial Review, 8 June 2015

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How long has it been since you’ve played tourist and done the rounds of our national cultural institutions? Now that Christmas and New Year’s Eve are done and dusted, the quiet days leading up to life cranking back into full gear are the perfect time to rediscover the fantastic experiences you can find within their walls.

Yesterday, I took the two Little Miss HerCanberras and headed to the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House (MOADOPH) to check out Behind the Lines 2015: The year’s best political cartoons. This is always a cracking exhibition, celebrating the role of satire and political cartoonists in Australia and highlighting the power that their drawings have in contributing to our daily political and social discourse. Not something you’d thought of as suitable for kids? You might be surprised…

With a selection of 80 of the best cartoons from 39 cartoonists, this year’s exhibition covers eight themes: #JeSuisCharlie, For our protection, Opposition matters, A glass half full, The fallen, Beyond the triangle, Political positions, and Party politics.


2015 was a year that created great fodder for Australian political cartoonists: “leadership spills and changes, big personalities, controversial policies, scandals and unseen microphones all yielded rich ore that cartoonists refined into satirical gold”, according to the exhibition signage.

It was also the year that we became more aware of how previous the freedom to laugh at ourselves is, and how necessary it is to have cartoonists, among others, who are free to express their views without fear. Consequently, the Charlie Hebdo atrocity features prominently in the exhibition, posing the question ‘when did political cartooning become a dangerous profession?’.

David Pope. Canberra Times, 8 January 2015

David Pope. Charlie Hebdo. Canberra Times, 8 January 2015

Australian journalist and award-winning writer Peter Greste wrote the foreword in the Behind the Lines 2015 catalogue and says, “In the hands of a great cartoonist, a simple line drawing has extraordinary power to slice through political spin and rhetoric; to clearly illuminate an otherwise hidden truth.”

The team at MOADOPH always put a huge effort into making their exhibitions interactive and relevant, and never forget our smallest citizens. Behind the Lines 2015 has taken two favourite childhood games—’Guess Who?’ and ‘Go Fish’ and reinvented them using work from Australian cartoonists.


My girls and I spent a good hour playing together, laughing at the depictions of our pollies, and talking about who was who and why they were drawn that way. It’s a great way to have a political conversation with your children and I really wished I could have bought a pack of the Go Fish cards – they were so clever and it was a whole lot of fun!


If you’re looking for ways to fill in the rest of  your break, make sure this is on your ‘to do’ list.

the essentials

What: Behind the Lines 2015: The year’s best political cartoons
Where: Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House, 18 King George Terrace, Parkes.
When: Open 9am to 5pm daily until 20 November 2016.
How much: Free after admission. $2 adults, $1 children and concessions, $5 family.
Web: www.moadoph.gov.au

Feature image: David Rowe. The Killing Season. Australian Financial Review, 8 June 2015

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