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20 May 2004

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

The exhibition traces the political year that was 2003 including leadership struggles, Australia's relationship with the United States, the Iraqi War 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. Bruce Petty's famous Human Contraptions animation series is also featured along with a working model of his Law Machine.

This is a great opportunity to review the year's most tumultuous events through the eyes of our best political cartoonists,' said Guy Hansen. ' Each image is like a small time capsule of recent events and personalities. It is also proof positive that our great Australian tradition of cutting cartoonists continues unabated.'

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

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 images or interviews with Guy Hansen or cartoonists contact Public Affairs Director Martin Portus on 02 6208 5351, 0409 916 481 or

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