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state library of queensland

Behind the Lines

Behind the Lines visual identity based on Matt Golding's political cartoon.

Behind the Lines

and Swings and Roundabouts

This exhibition is in the past.
10 August 2019- 27 October 2019
slq Gallery, Level 2 

Behind the Lines: The year’s best political cartoons 2018

Nothing better represents the important role of a free press in a healthy democracy than political cartooning. And Australia is blessed with outstanding cartoonists from across the political spectrum — cartoonists who are mainstream, regional, digital and increasingly independent. 

In a world where every year sees a decline in nations that enjoy a free press, our media daily offers up cartoons that comment, lampoon and occasionally sympathise with our politicians and their actions. This is something to treasure and defend. Despite the increasing difficulties in separating misinformation and opinion from matters of fact, our cartoonists are champions when it comes to cutting through the rhetoric, skewering the fake and talking truth to power.

Exhibition theme: Curiouser and curiouser

Matt Golding holding his winning artwork.

Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland provides the inspiration for Behind the Lines. This iconic children’s story sees Alice fall down a very deep rabbit-hole into a strange and puzzling world, a topsy-turvy place where nothing is quite as it seems. This theme seemed appropriate for a political year filled with turmoil, high drama, and unexpected twists and turns. 


Matt Golding standing in front of his winning political cartoon displayed on a wall.

Cartoonist of the year

Cartoonist of the Year, Matt Golding, has been delighting fans for years with his work for Fairfax publications. He excels at the ‘pocket’ cartoon style, featuring a single issue to which he brings insight and humour. This year Matt has loved the banking royal commission, by-elections, tax cuts and, of course, the spectre of Tony Abbott looming over the government.  For more information, visit Matt’s website.

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Curator’s top cartoons

Curiouser and Curiouser by Matt Golding

Swings & Roundabouts: 100 years of Queensland political cartoons

Swings and Roundabouts accompanies Behind the Lines with a glance in the rear-view mirror at Queensland politics.  It dips into State Library’s collection of original cartoons to explore the ups and downs of the last one hundred years, recalling Queensland’s radical days as the Red North and bringing the Australian politician, Joh Bjelke-Petersen years sharply back into focus. 

It revisits some of the pivotal moments in Queensland politics since Joh’s demise and tells the tale of the forays into Canberra of Pauline Hanson and Kevin Rudd.

Cartoonists have a powerful ability to sum up the zeitgeist and to distil an era into a drawing which says more than pages of text.  This display contains works by some of the masters of the art, from the early twentieth century cartoonists A.J. Hingston and Hal Eyre, to artists like Neil Matterson, Sean Leahy and Alan Moir.

Collection highlights

Kevin 07
Queensland heart of darkness, Ch. 2
United we stand, divided we fall, 1909.  A.J. Hingston
The power that will do it, 1907. A.J. Hingston.
The martyrdom of me, 1996, Edward O’Neill.
Rush for seats, 1907, A.J. Hingston.
Declare a state of emergency!, 1981, Alan Moir.
Bjelke Foundation, 1981, Alan Moir.
Monkeying with the Legislative Council, ca. 1926. Harry Julius.
Scylla and Charybdis, 1918. H.M. Challinor.
Queensland unemployment high, 2012. Neil Matterson.
Behind the Lines Curiouser card game


Get competitive with the political card game, or try your hand at sketching your self-portrait from a distorted mirror. Bring along your family and friends to debate, sketch and play.


Behind the Lines is a travelling exhibition developed by Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House, proudly supported by the National Collection Institutions Touring and Outreach program, an Australian Government program aiming to improve access to the national collections for all Australians.

Museum of Australian Democracy Old Parliament HouseNational Collecting Institutions Touring and Outreach Program