Judy Horacek: Australia's leading feminist cartoonist


I am Woman, Hear Me Draw
Cartoons by Judy Horacek
State Library of Victoria, Keith Murdoch Gallery, Swanston Street, Melbourne
Until mid-February


Cartoonist Judy Horacek's work, now showing at the Victorian State Library, is a heartening, whimsical and hard hitting array of political graphics that will lift the spirits and rejuvenate the resolve of most activists. The exhibition commemorates Australian women's fight to win the vote, which was formalised in the 1902 Commonwealth Franchise Act.

Horacek is Australia's most recognised feminist cartoonist and features regularly in the Melbourne Age and the Sydney Morning Herald. Her cartoons have been published overseas, and can be found on fridge and toilet doors all over Australia!

Spanning 12 years of her work, I am Woman, Hear Me Draw presents something new for even the most well-versed fan. If you haven't seen any of her work, you're in for a treat. Most of Horacek's cartoons contain feisty women giving snappy one-liners or delivering cutting political analysis with aplomb. As Horacek says, "My characters are a bit like an everywomen. They are braver, sassier, larger than I am with a rapier-like wit. One can't help but admire them."

Admire them we do!

"Damn feminist" shows a capable, pointy-nosed woman killing a dragon with ease, only to be cursed by a prince who has lost his central role in life. "Shared child-care" gives us a nativity scene with Mary unequivocally addressing Joseph: "So it's agreed, we'll share child-care equally."

Horacek holds true to her politics and bites the potential hand that feeds in "Feminist man-haters", which exposes the corporate media's anti-feminist agenda. "Cemetery of woman" looks at the lack of recognition women receive for the work they've done throughout their lives. Headstones read: "A good mother"; "Dutiful"; and "You could eat off her floors".

"Beached Whale" attacks the idea that women over size 10 look like large mammals, while "Dr Jekyll" notes the dreary nature of housework with the caption, "Dr Jekyll worked by day as a respected scientist, then at night she would be hideously turned into a slave". The dishes piling up around Jekyll in the final frame seem never-ending!

Global warming and white male heterosexual rulers are also targets in Horacek's work. Tongue-in-cheek career and romance advice also feature.

Horacek's work is a must for all to see.

[Visit Judy Horacek's web site at <http://www.horacek.com.au/home.htm>.]

From Green Left Weekly, February 5, 2003.

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