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31 March 2004

More than 100 works by Australia's best political cartoonists go on show in Canberra this winter for the National Museum of Australia's popular annual political cartooning exhibition, Behind the Lines.

The free exhibition traces the political year that was 2003 - including leadership struggles, Australia's relationship with the United States and the elusive search for weapons of mass destruction.

Curator Guy Hansen, who has compiled the annual exhibition for the past seven years, said the commentary in each cartoon was often more evocative than the thousands of words that surrounded them in print.

'With a few strokes of the pen, cartoonists dissect the most complex events, reflecting on the big issues of the day,' Mr Hansen said. 'While sometimes ephemeral in newsprint, they demand serious attention when presented for display.'

Behind the Lines includes 105 of the best entries in the National Museum's 2003 Australian Political Humour Competition. Sixty artists are represented, with works from Bill Leak, Cathy Wilcox, Peter Nicholson, Geoff Pryor, Judy Horacek, Sean Leahy and Mark Knight.

The exhibition also includes sculptures from John Shakespeare and David Rowe capturing Australia's significant politicians and media players, and one of Bruce Petty's famous Human Contraptions models showing how it all works!

For the first time in its history, the popular National Museum exhibition made its debut outside Canberra, opening in Brisbane and travelling to RMIT Gallery for the Melbourne Comedy Festival.

In Melbourne, Fairfax's Ron Tandberg was judged the winner of the Political Humour Competition for the second year in a row, his work still proving popular with visitors and judges.

Media are invited to attend the official Canberra opening at 11am on Friday, 21 May.

Behind the Lines is on show in the National Museum's Temporary Gallery from 21 May - 27 June. Entry is free. The exhibition then travels to the Constitutional Centre of Western Australia in Perth from 9 July - 31 August, and the Library and Office of the Legislative Assembly in Darwin from 10 September - 14 October.

For interviews, images or more information please contact Public Affairs Director Martin Portus on 02 6208 5351, 0409 916 481 or

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