Cartoon of the year in the Rotary Cartoon Awards for 2020 is John 'Polly' Farmer's depiction of the grim reaper utilising the latest in social media technology. His cartoon is on display at the National Cartoon Gallery in Coffs Harbour until February 28. Image: John 'Polly' Farmer.
Cartoon of the year in the Rotary Cartoon Awards for 2020 is John 'Polly' Farmer's depiction of the grim reaper utilising the latest in social media technology. His cartoon is on display at the National Cartoon Gallery in Coffs Harbour until February 28. Image: John 'Polly' Farmer.

‘Crisis? Which crisis?’ Competition captures spirit of 2020

A collection of the best cartoons of 2020 is a fascinating look into the year that was through the eyes of some extremely talented artists.

The cartoonists entering the 32nd annual Rotary Cartoon Awards have perfectly captured the tragedy, absurdity and sense of community which came to symbolise an eventful 2020.

Given a free rein with the theme ‘Crisis, Which crisis’, the collection features everything from sobering images of the Prime Minister trying to extinguish bushfires with ‘thoughts and prayers’ to hilarious scenes of covid-19 germs launching a ‘second wave’ attack.

The exhibition is on now at the National Cartoon Gallery in Coffs Harbour and runs until February 28.

Some of the works featured in the caricature section of the Rotary Cartoon Awards on display at the National Cartoon Gallery in Coffs Harbour until February 28. Photo: Tim Jarrett
Some of the works featured in the caricature section of the Rotary Cartoon Awards on display at the National Cartoon Gallery in Coffs Harbour until February 28. Photo: Tim Jarrett

Gallery manager Margaret Cameron said despite the challenges thrown up by the pandemic, the response to this year’s competition was as strong as ever and the crisis theme “resonated quite well” with entrants.

“They saw the upside, the underbelly and the pain (of 2020), there is a really broad representation,” she said.

“A few cartoonists used works they had (produced) during the year and quite a lot of cartoonists (created works) specifically for this exhibition.”

READ MORE: Gallery opening draws near as bunker weathers first storm

This year’s winner was a cartoon by John ‘Polly’ Farmer which cleverly depicted the grim reaper getting with the times and using social media to go about its business.

The competition has been a mainstay on the Coffs Harbour creative calendar for more than three decades, becoming the premier competition for Australian cartoonists and the flagship exhibition of the National Cartoon Gallery.

Work on the $2m Bunker Cartoon Gallery redevelopment will soon be complete with gallery manager Margaret Cameron announcing it is due to open in mid-February 2021. Photo: Tim Jarrett
Work on the $2m Bunker Cartoon Gallery redevelopment will soon be complete with gallery manager Margaret Cameron announcing it is due to open in mid-February 2021. Photo: Tim Jarrett

The competition attracts some of the best and most well-known cartoonist from across the country and offers more than $5500 in prize money for winning entries across a variety of categories.

“The cartoonists of Australia value it greatly and a Rotary Cartoon Award is really something to write home about,” Ms Cameron said.

The National Cartoon Gallery, one of a kind in Australia and situated in a World War II bunker, is close to cutting the ribbon on a new $3 million redevelopment.

Built on top of the current bunker, it is hoped the new gallery and theatre space will one day tell the story of Australia through cartoon, using historic records to bring important events in the nation’s history into context.



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