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Cartoon #2006-1059

Press Gallery cartoon by Geoff Pryor: ‘The PM’s just announced a reshuffle…’

History

The Press Gallery cartoon was commissioned from Geoff Pryor, a political cartoonist with The Canberra Times, in 2006 for display in the Press Gallery. The cartoon shows journalists at work in a crowded and stuffy office with the fug of cigarette smoke in the air. Pryor is illustrating what many journalists remember of the working conditions of the press offices. By 1988 the press offices were described by journalist Harry Stein as ‘a rabbit warren of small offices and narrow passages where everybody lived in one another’s pockets.’

Born in Canberra in 1944, Geoff Pryor showed an interest in drawing from an early age. Pryor’s grandfather had been a freelance cartoonist in South Australia under the name of ‘Cypher’, and Pryor recalls many hours spent studying the works hung on his grandfather’s walls-works by Bulletin greats such as Ted Scorfield, Norman Lindsay and David Low. Growing up in Canberra, Pryor was also imbued with a deep sense of politics. As a young boy he wandered through the corridors of Parliament House waiting for his mother who worked as a stenographer for a South Australian Senator. These combined influences of art and politics provided a firm base for Pryor’s future career as one of Australia’s leading political cartoonists. When first employed as a cartoonist, he had the rare privilege of being allowed to sketch from the floor of the House of Representatives - provided he stayed firmly behind an imaginary line, in a small alcove next to the ABC broadcast booth. This did not continue in the new Parliament House after 1988.

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Statement of values

The Geoff Pryor cartoon is significant because of its association with the political cartoonist Geoff Pryor, the Press Offices and Gallery and because it is indicative of an era. Geoff Pryor’s piercing analysis of political events, combined with exceptionally accomplished full-frame illustrations featuring a host of brilliantly caricatured personalities, have been part of the nation’s ‘political breakfast’ for 25 years. The Press Offices have outstanding historic significance because of their association with the evolving nature and composition of the Press Gallery, the press coverage of Parliamentary debates, and, increasingly, of broader party political and executive developments, from 1927 to 1988. The Press Offices and the stories and personalities associated with them, reflect the changing nature of the relationship between newspapers and the electronic media organisations, and the Parliament and executive government. This cartoon is also significant as it provides a snapshot of the Press Offices, indicating what it would have been like to work there during the 1970s and 1980s.

The Geoff Pryor cartoon is part of the Associated Parliamentary and Political Collection, which comprises those objects which are relevant to the democratic, parliamentary and political history of Australia. This collection includes items of material culture which are acquired for exhibition, interpretation and research.

  • Cartoon by Geoff PryorCartoon by Geoff Pryor

Details

Width 385mm
Height 252mm
Medium Ink; cardboard
Creator’s name Geoff Pryor
Date created 2006