In a year of grim news, the newly-crowned Political Cartoonist of the Year, Fiona Katauskas, wanted to bring a lightness of touch to her work - with still a sting in its tale.
Sydney-based Ms Katauskas was bestowed the honour by former journalist and Old Parliament House chair Barrie Cassidy on Wednesday, ahead of the opening on Thursday of the 2023 Behind the Lines exhibition, showcasing the best of political cartoons this year.
Ms Katauskas' work this year appeared in The Echidna, a daily newsletter produced by Australian Community Media, and The Guardian newspaper.
She covered subjects from the cost-of-living crisis to climate change and the rise of artificial intelligence, providing equally a laugh and pause for thought.
Judges acknowledged her work for its "heart, humour and diversity".
"As probably most people noticed, 2023 was a pretty grim year, news-wise," she said.
"So, I shifted my approach a bit this year, the issues were really heavy, so I wanted to take a lighter touch and try to find some humour in some of the very grim stuff.
"So, I was a little bit less savage this year than I normally am - but I do also enjoy the savage stuff. When things are relentless and the news is so depressing, you don't want people switching off."
The Political Cartoonist of the Year was announced ahead of the opening on Thursday of the 2023 Behind the Lines exhibition at the Museum of Australian Democracy. The theme of this year's exhibition is All Fun and Games.
Mr Cassidy said the Behind the Lines exhibition was probably the most popular event at MOAD, bringing thousands of people through the doors of the Old Parliament House building.
"And, as a result, they wander around and as they do, they get a whiff of democracy, while they're here. Which is the point," he said.
He said Ms Katauskas was a worthy winner.
"Fiona's so typical of those cartoonists who have real astute political judgement," he said.
"She knows precisely how to cut through and, of course, she writes on politics as well as anybody. So, a really well-deserved winner and I'm so pleased she won it."
Ms Katauskas was thrilled to be recognised.
"I was extremely surprised to be Cartoonist of the Year, but also insanely chuffed because I love this exhibition so much," she said.
"And also, I love these cartoonists. We have so much talent in this country, so much amazing talent.
"I know all the cartoonists as well and deeply respect all of them. So to be in amongst these peers and to get this award, I was extremely surprised but very happy."
Sydney artist Jess Harwood was proof the Behind the Lines exhibition could inspire and resonate.
Ms Harwood was just 13 when she and her parents stumbled upon the Behind the Lines exhibition during a visit to Canberra.
"I was a political-nerd kid who liked to draw and it was the first time I thought, 'I could probably give this a go'," she said.
Now 35, she had her own artwork in this year's exhibition, Winter in Australia's Glorified Tents, a comment on insulation in rented accommodation, which appeared in The Guardian.
"I think 13-year-old me would be absolutely stoked to know I now have a cartoon in the exhibition," she said.
The 2023 Behind the Lines exhibition features 125 works by 47 artists.
This year, the exhibition has built on the idea of what constitutes a political cartoon with Out of the Frame, a section highlighting cartoons using new and creative formats. It includes a sculpture and painting by Van Nishing, animated GIFs by Glen Le Lievre, a satirical T-shirt by Nordacious and puppets from a First Dog on the Moon play.
MOAD director Stephanie Bull said the museum was proud of the role it played capturing the art of political cartooning.
"Political cartoons are an important part of our democracy - they encourage debate and understanding," she said.
"Behind the Lines is a highlight on the MOAD calendar, it allows us to celebrate all cartoonists both established and emerging.
"This exhibition showcases their skills and explores their contributions to our social political discourse and culture."
- Behind the Lines 2023 will open at Old Parliament House, Canberra on Thursday, November 30, and be on display for a year. Entry is free from 9am to 5pm daily. (Not open Christmas Day)