While MoAD’s Behind the Lines celebrates the spectacular artistry of political cartooning, there’s certainly a science behind what goes into a great illustration.
Another year of madness and instability from elected leaders at home and abroad means another year of satirical gold for our nation’s political cartoonists.
And while the political pandemonium certainly makes their job easier, it’s an artist’s ability to cut to the crux of the issue with razor-sharp clarity and wit that truly gives a cartoon its power.
“A cartoon is viewed and understood sometimes in just a few seconds, in that little snapshot you can communicate so much,” said 2018 Behind the Lines Cartoonist of the Year, Matt Golding.
Golding told Canberra Weekly he was thrilled to receive the award, which acknowledged his body of work since the start of 2018.
“It’s been a personal passion for so long; I’ve taken a little boy’s passion and have spent a life delving into some of the great cartoonists of the world.
“We’ve grown up in our backyard with some of the great innovators of the craft, and so to be drawing in what is a very difficult time for publishing, newspapers and media, is the prize. This is the big cherry on top.”
MoAD Director Daryl Karp said dwindling job prospects means it’s challenging times for political cartoonists.
“With the way the media is changing makes things far more challenging … Trust is declining, satisfaction in democracy is declining and we’ve got this extraordinary emergence of fake news and the merging between political opinion and fact.
“The importance of a museum like ours is to remind people of the role of a free press in a healthy democracy, and this is a really fun way to do that,” she said.
“Every morning you wake up, and the radio delivers you three or four meaty topics, and things have just keep moving like that,” Golding added.
“It’s a smorgasbord. It’s a fascinating time and slightly scary as well.”
Acclaimed satirical musician and self-described ‘political nerd’ Sammy J, well known for his various television shows including Sammy J & Randy in Ricketts Lane, was on hand to open the exhibition earlier this month.
He told Canberra Weekly there are many parallels between satirical songwriting and cartooning, describing his work as a “living cartoon”.
“They’re obviously very different forms in terms of on the page or on the screen, so the medium is different.
“It’s the exact same part of the brain that all political satirists use which is looking at the issues and trying to hone in on the truth of something and then find the comedic twist.
“Looking at the cartoons, a lot of the themes and jokes will be in a similar vein to the work I’ve done this year and that of other comedians.
“Comedians and cartoonists both look at the situation, break down the logic of it and push it to its most absurd end-point.
Sammy J said this year’s theme Curiouser & Curiouser, inspired by Alice in Wonderland, was perfectly apt given the events of 2018.
“I was just hoping we might get some politicians in as cameos. I thought Malcolm would have made a great Mad Hatter, perhaps Julie Bishop as the Queen of Hearts? But there’s always next year,” he smiled.
Behind the Lines: The year’s best political cartoons 2018 is on display at MoAD now, and will run for 12 months; moadoph.gov.au