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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Norman Hetherington OAM (and friends), 2008

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
Gift of the artist, Kate Rae and Mosman Art Gallery with the encouragement of the Hetherington family, 2015

Accession number: 2015.79

Currently not on display

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Kate Rae

Norman Hetherington OAM (age 87 in 2008)

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.