Bruce Petty

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Bruce Petty (born 1929, Melbourne) is one of Australia's best known political satirists and cartoonists.[1] He is a regular contributor to Melbourne's The Age newspaper. He is married to Australian award-winning novelist, Kate Grenville; they live in Balmain, a suburb of Sydney, New South Wales.

His intricate images have been described as "doodle-bombs" for their free-association of links between various ideas, people and institutions. Age journalist Martin Flanagan wrote that Petty "re-invented the world as a vast scribbly machine with interlocking cogs and levers that connected people in wholly logical but unlikely ways."[1]


Petty began working for the Owen Brothers animation studio in Melbourne in 1949, before leaving in 1955 to work overseas with work being published in The New Yorker, Esquire and Punch. On his return to Australia, he worked at first for The Bulletin and The Australian before joining The Age in 1976.

In 1976, the animated film Leisure, of which he was the director, won an Academy Award for the producer Suzanne Baker (the first Australian woman to win an Oscar). "When I got it, the Oscar went to the producer. We got a picture of it, a very nice gold-framed picture." (The Age, 22 June 2004)

He has made a number of other award-winning animated films including "Art", "Australian History", "Hearts and Minds" and "Karl Marx".

Bruce has also created a number of "machine sculptures" with the most famous being a piece known as "Man Environment Machine" (fondly known as the "Petty Machine") that was a feature piece of the Australian Pavilion at World Expo '85 at Tsukuba, Japan.

In 2007, he received the AFI Best Documentary Director prize for the documentary Global Haywire which he wrote, directed and animated, as well as the Best Documentary Sound prize ; this documentary tries to unravel the global pattern that leads to an understanding of how the world came to be as it is today, and is based on interviews with intellectuals, students and journalists.

Bruce's 2008 book, Petty's Parallel Worlds, is a retrospective collection of editorial cartoons from 1959 to the present, street sketches done on assignment around the world, and etchings.


Petty says in the foreword to Parallel Worlds that he is a humanist and Socialist, mentions visiting Nicaragua and Cuba in the early 1960s, and feeling the influence of Colin Wilson's The Outsider. Also by Charlie Perkins.


  • Hearts and Minds (1968)
  • Australian History (1971)
  • Art (1974)
  • Leisure (1976)
  • Magic Arts (1978)
  • Karl Marx (1979)
  • Megalomedia (1983)
  • Movers (1986)
  • Money (1998)
  • The Mad Century (2000)
  • Human Contraptions (2002)[2]
  • Global Haywire (2007)



  1. ^ a b Bruce Petty Profile, The Age, accessed 13 September 2008
  2. ^ "Searchable Film Database". Australian Film Commission. 

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