Behind the Lines 2017: The Three-Ring Circus

Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House, Canberra | Opens 25 November 2017; Touring 2017-2018
Curator: Holly Williams

David Rowe, commissioned cartoon for Behind the Lines 2017,2017

David Rowe, commissioned cartoon for Behind the Lines 2017,2017

About the exhibition:

Behind the Lines 2017: The Three Ring Circus showcases the year’s best political cartoons, highlighting themes of freedom of the press and democracy in action, and features work from John Shakespeare, David Rowe, Michael Leunig, Cathy Wilcox and Mark Knight, among others.

“What better way to reflect on the tumultuous political year - from postal votes and citizenship chaos, to penalty rates and constitutional recognition – than through the art form of political cartoons,” said MoAD’s Director Daryl Karp. “Behind the Lines 2017 captures the spirit of Australia’s democracy in all its passion, scepticism and humour.”

Holly Williams, curator of Behind the Lines 2017, said the theme for this year’s exhibition captures the fascination the political year attracts. “The Three Ring Circus represents a world where fact and fiction collide and ringmasters, jugglers and acrobats have all stepped into the political big top. It was a wild, entertaining, confusing and engrossing year that lends itself beautifully to the talents of our cartoonists.”

Political cartoonist David Rowe claimed 2017’s Political Cartoonist of the Year award as part of the launch of Behind the Lines 2017. “David Rowe has met the events both at home and abroad with a dark intensity and unflinching pen. The figures he draws become lurid, bordering on the grotesque as he gives visual form to our uneasy feelings on the state of the world,” Holly Williams said. An editorial cartoonist for the Australian Financial Review, David has captured Australia’s political landscape with bold brush strokes and biting humour since the late 80s.

“It is wonderful to be recognised for your work, particularly during such an extraordinary year in politics. The election of Donald Trump and the way local politics has played out in 2017 has given political cartoonists so much material,” David Rowe said.

Tour Schedule:

Tamworth Regional Gallery, Tamworth, NSW: 15 December 2017 to 4 February 2018
Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery, Toowoomba, QLD: 10 February to 29 March 2018
Parramatta Riverside Theatre, Parramatta, NSW: 11 April to 6 June 2018
Albury Library Museum, Albury, NSW: 23 June to 14 August 2018
Old Treasury Building, Melbourne, VIC: 27 August to 15 October 2018
Bunker Cartoon Gallery, Coffs Harbour, NSW: 26 October to 2 December 2018

media coverage

Ron Cerabona, David Rowe named 2017 political cartoonist of the year at Behind the Lines, The Canberra Times, 24 November 2017
Clare Colley, David Rowe has been named political cartoonist of the year by Behind the Lines, The Australian Financial Review, 24 November 2017
Dan Bourchier, Why are political cartoons so important for politics? Hear how the 2017 Cartoonist of the Year David Rowe was chosen, Breakfast, ABC Radio Canberra, 24 November 2017
Jennifer Rajca, Cartoons capture crazy Canberra circus, The West Australian, 24 November 2017

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