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Norman Hetherington OAM (and friends)
, 2008

by Kate Rae

oil on canvas (support: 137.0 cm x 167.5 cm)

Norman Hetherington OAM (1921–2010), cartoonist and puppeteer, was the creator of Mr Squiggle, one of the ABC’s longest-running children’s television programs. Born in Sydney, Hetherington contributed his first cartoon to The Bulletin while still at high school and studied art at the East Sydney Technical College in the late 1930s. After war service, he joined the Bulletin full-time, working there alongside artists like Norman Lindsay. During the 1950s he began to pursue his puppetry hobby further, performing puppet shows at libraries and during the children’s matinees at various Sydney cinemas. By 1957, he was working in television, creating several children’s programs before Mr Squiggle went to air in 1959. Initially planned as a fill-in, the show ran for 40 years throughout which countless children sent in their ‘squiggles’ for conversion into completed drawings by the eponymous marionette – a ‘visitor from outer space’ with a pencil for a nose. Hetherington voiced and manipulated Mr Squiggle himself; his wife, Margaret, wrote the scripts; and, for a time, daughter Rebecca appeared as Mr Squiggle’s assistant. An exhibition of Hetherington’s work was presented by Mosman Art Gallery in 2005, five years before his death at age 89.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Gift of the artist, Kate Rae and Mosman Art Gallery with the encouragement of the Hetherington family, 2015
Accession number: 2015.79