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18 December 2003

Queensland Minister for the Arts Matt Foley today launched an exhibition of Australia's best political cartoons from a year marked by the conflict in Iraq.

A travelling exhibition developed and presented by The National Museum of Australia, the popular annual cartoon exhibition debuts this year for the first time outside Canberra, at the Queensland Museum in Brisbane.

Behind the Lines — The Year's Best Cartoons will also feature a series of sculptures depicting prominent politicians created by Brisbane-born John Shakespeare.

Mr Foley said the exhibition highlighted the impact cartoonists play in challenging conceptions and drawing the public's attention to key social and political issues.

'Behind the Lines is an insightful reminder of the past year through the eyes of some of the country's most creative political commentators,' Mr Foley said.

'These works remind us yet again of the importance of graphic art in our newspapers and magazines,' says National Museum curator Guy Hansen. 'With a few strokes of the pen the cartoonists manage to dissect the most complex issues reflecting the big issues of the day.'

'Deep lines were drawn in Australian society as the debate over the war dominated the news. The resignation of the Governor-General, leadership struggles, John Howard's decision to stay on as Prime Minister, the release of Pauline Hanson from jail and the fate of 58,000 sheep stranded in the Middle East all momentarily claimed the headlines.'

The exhibition features 105 of the best entries in the 2003 Australian Political Humour Competition, including the work of 59 artists. Most of Australia's major cartoonists and illustrators are represented, including The Courier- Mail's Sean Leahy, Bill Leak, Matthew Martin, Ron Tandberg, Cathy Wilcox, Alan Moir, Michael Atchison, Judy Horacek, Peter Nicholson, Geoff Pryor, and Mark Knight.

A panel of judges including former Queensland Premier Wayne Goss, Greg Chamberlin, Associate Editor of The Courier-Mail and Helen Ringrose, Director General of the Department of Tourism, Racing and Fair Trading will decide the winner of the Best Political Satire award, to be announced in late January 2004.

Last year for the first time one artist, The Age's Ron Tandberg, won both Best Political Satire and People's Choice awards. This year's winner of the major award will receive $5000, up from $1000. The winner of each city's People's Choice award will be announced at the opening of the exhibition in the next venue.

Behind the Lines runs until 22 February, 2004 at Queensland Museum, South Bank. It then moves to RMIT in Melbourne (15 March to 24 April), the National Museum of Australia in Canberra (21 May to 27 June), the Constitutional Centre of WA in Perth (9 July to 31 August), and the Library and Office of the Legislative Assembly in Darwin (10 September to 14 October).

For more information or images, please contact the Queensland Museum's Sarah Perrott on 07 3842 9388, 0417 741 710 or email

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