Highlights of Behind the Lines 2021

  • Written byHolly Williams
  • DateThu, 09 Dec 2021

Curator Holly Williams presents her highlights from this year's exhibition.

In addition to some talented familiar faces, led by our Political Cartoonist of the Year, Glen Le Lievre, Behind the Lines is introducing several first-time contributors into the mix who reflect our dynamic democracy.

Glen Le Lievre - Political Cartoonist of the Year

Glen Le Lievre is a master of crafting with light to infuse atmosphere and drama — you can almost hear the night crickets chirping in his cartoon ‘Full House’, of the different states entering stay at home orders, or with ‘The Long Goodbye’ where he has created a sunlit Indian airport scene.

Our Political Cartoonist of the Year judges made special mention of his ability to discuss an issue without the need for words. He creates whole worlds in his drawings and GIFs and somehow managed to inject commentary on a political situation with the capacity to evoke personal emotional resonances – a rare skill.

Cartoon by Glen Le Lievre of a two story house and in each of the windows is one of Australia's states or territories.

Glen Le Lievre, The Australian.

Jim Pavlidis - The PM of No Responsibility

From time-to-time political leaders cast out a throwaway line only to have it stick to them like flies at a picnic. Since the Prime Minister first uttered the line, ‘I don’t hold a hose, mate’, on 2GB in December 2019, political cartoonists have not let him forget it.

Cartoon of bust of former prime minister Scott Morrison with three arms surrounding him, offering him a fire hose, sexual assault petition and a phone that has COVID-19 written on it.

Jim Pavlidis/The Age

Jon Kudelka - Burying Disbelief

Jon Kudelka has managed the impossible – to create a funny cartoon about climate change where the pollies are part of the solution.

Cartoon by Jon Kudelka; 'how carbon capture and storage works', showing Kudelka's impression of a prototype of a CCS facility, and a politician standing next to the facility with a hi-vis vest that re-radiates the sun's rays back into space. Kudelka's facility is quite detailed (and complex) in design.

Jon Kudelka, The Australian.

Matt Golding - Inheritance

This is a cartoon that refuses to leave my mind. Its rendering is so simple, but there is something in the way Matt Golding has cast the Prime Minister and Treasurer walking out the frame, and away from the next generation that embodies the alarm many younger people feel about their future.

Its message is strong and perhaps needs to be – there is an urgent, unanswered question posed here. The dismissive body language also reminds me of the way politicians with years of working life ahead of them retire from the Parliament and take up high paid consultancy jobs in the private sector.

Cartoon of former prime minister Scott Morrison and former treasurer Josh Frydenberg saying 'We'll leave you generations of debt and climate change', 'Don't grow up too soon!'. They are speaking to small children and babies.

Matt Golding, The Sydney Morning Herald/The Age.

Meg O'Shea - Phonecall with Aunty

Meg O’Shea is one of the new artists in Behind the Lines. Her work, first published on Instagram, highlights political cartooning’s new voices and ways of reaching audiences. This cartoon conveys, through a personal lens, some of the politicised undercurrents in the pandemic’s response.

The Delta outbreak began in the wealthiest electorate in Australia, former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull’s seat of Wentworth, and went on to take root in some of Sydney’s most culturally diverse and economically challenged suburbs where the so-called ‘two tier’ response captured in O’Shea’s cartoon played out.

This cartoon examines one person's response, via a phone call with someone else, to the lockdowns in 2021.

Meg O'Shea, Self-published.

Judy Kuo - Lockdown Mood 6

This quiet image of a life in lockdown by Melbourne-based Judy Kuo, a first time Behind the Lines exhibitor, reminds us that lockdowns have become inherently political. As our social fabric is increasingly tested by the pandemic and our mental health suffers from the drawn-out stay-at-home orders, Kuo’s illustration is deeply relatable.

This work also reminds me of other aspects of the pandemic – the desire to wake up and realise it was all a dream, the impact on multicultural communities and the unexpected migration to from the cities.

A quiet image of a life in lockdown by Melbourne-based Judy Kuo.

Judy Kuo, Self-published.

Simon Letch - Track Record 

Who knew in 2019 that such a daggy bit of tech - the QR code – would end up being one of the primary tools to fight a deadly virus. Letch’s take on the zeitgeist is unparalleled in this cartoon and his self-deprecating humour (check out the code for his signature) is refreshing.

In this cartoon,a man sits on a box with a QR code on it. The man is chained to the box, signifying how this daggy bit of tech became such an important, and primary, tool to fight COVID-19.

Simon Letch, The Sydney Morning Herald/The Age.