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8 December 2009

A prominent media commentator has raised concerns about the future for Australian cartoonists at the launch of Behind the Lines: The Year's Best Cartoons 2009 an exhibition of the year's best political cartoons at the National Museum of Australia today.

'The future for our black and white artists is a study in grey,' said Michael Bowers, the cartoon and photographic commentator for ABC TV's Insiders program.

'Australian cartoonists are struggling to survive in a world of newspaper closures, cutbacks and easy to use computer technology. The cartoonist is under threat as never before,' said Mr Bowers.

Mike Bowers was speaking at Behind the Lines: The Year's Best Cartoons 2009, an exhibition exploring the twists and turns of another eventful year in Australian politics which opened today at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra.

'After a tough twelve months of Australian politics these cartoons provide a much needed jolt of satire. It is a great opportunity to reflect on what happened, appreciate some great artwork and have a good laugh,' said Senior Curator Guy Hansen.

The exhibition will trace major events of the year including the Black Saturday bushfires, fighting the recession, Australia's relationship with China, debate over the Emissions Trading Scheme, as well as other hot topics including the controversial 'ute-gate' scandal, the swine flu pandemic and the arrival of refugees.

The cartoons in this year's exhibition represent the best Australian political cartoons sourced by the National Museum throughout the year. Artists include Bill Leak, Cathy Wilcox, John Spooner, David Rowe, Geoff Pryor, David Pope, Mark Knight and First Dog On The Moon.

Exhibition visitors will be invited to choose their favourite cartoon for the People's Choice Award, a $1000 prize for the cartoonist with most popular work in the exhibition.

Behind the Lines: The Year's Best Cartoons 2009 is a National Museum of Australia travelling exhibition and will travel to Parramatta, Melbourne, Perth and Darwin throughout 2010. The exhibition is on display at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra from December 8, 2009 to January 31, 2010. Admission is free. For more information visit

For interviews, images and more information please contact Dennis Grant on 02 6208 5351, 0409 916 481; Caroline Vero on 02 6208 5338, 0438 620 710 or

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