Sea serpent to emerge at festival
Over the next few weeks, puppetry artist Karen Hethey will transform cane, old shade sails and discarded kitesurfing fabric into a giant sea serpent puppet for an upcoming festival.
Inspired by the sea creatures found on 16th century maps, the 15m long puppet will be used in a beach performance during the Balayi — Open Your Eyes! Houtman 400 Festival.
Held on July 27 and 28 in Geraldton, the festival marks 400 years since the Houtman Abrolhos Islands were discovered by Dutch explorers in 1619.
As Hethey chips away at the mythical monster, residents of all ages are welcome to drop by the Museum of Geraldton or the old Westpac building to lend a helping hand.
“Puppets are so extraordinary and so full of life, it’s kind of magic,” Hethey said.
“And when you’re a part of creating that magic, you become something bigger than yourself.
“When you’re building something like this, it is a gift to the community, and to experience that feeling that is fantastic.”
Hethey, who has been a professional puppeteer since 1996, said no experience was required to help create the puppet.
“The techniques I teach people are just twisting wire and shaping canes,” she said.
“Everyone’s hearts and hands are involved as we bring it to life and people meet people they wouldn’t normally meet.
“Hopefully what’s left behind is new stories that are unique to Geraldton, wound into the community.”
The Perth-based artist is on the hunt for old or torn fabric from sails or kitesurfing kites to cover the puppet, keeping it lightweight and weather-proof.
When it comes to covering the puppet’s cane skeleton, Hethey said she would need a number of “puppeteers” to help out.
Up to 15 people will also be required on the day of the performance.
Hethey will work on the puppet at the old Westpac building on the corner of Marine Terrace and Cathedral Avenue until July 27.
Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.
Sign up for our emails