Karen Hethey is West Australian based independent multi-disciplinary artist, Animateur/Director, puppetry artist, performance maker, mentor, facilitator and CACD Consultant. Her practice draws on a professional background in puppetry arts, performance making, spectacle puppetry performance, installation, intercultural community arts, cultural development and applied Anthropology. She has more than 27 years experience of working collaboratively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across remote, regional, and urban Australia and also with regional communities to create community story and performance projects. A foundation to her inter cultural work draws on the many years she spent in Central Australia both as an Excisions Officer at the peak indigenous organization the Central Land Council working with and for traditional indigenous custodians, law men and women and as an artist/performance maker/puppeteer/Director/dramaturge involved in creating inter cultural performances including the Sugarman Project, Werdindinmahn, Under Today, The Magic Garden, Morgan and Molly, The Messenger Project.
Training in professional puppetry arts with Noriko Nishimoto (WA), and taking professional development workshops with Sha ShaHibby (USA), Neville Tranter (Aus/Netherlands), Jiri Zmitko (WA), Giovanni Margio (Siciliy/Aus), she has performed professionally,touring nationally and internationally with companies including Spare Parts Puppet Theatre(The Arrival, The Muttuburrasaurus, Grendel and the Gladiator, Blue Back, Out of this World, Aquasapiens, Midnight Gang) Deck Chair Theatre (Hysteria), Erth Physical and Visual Theatre (Dinosaur Petting Zoo). A highlight of her puppetry career includes performing the multi-award winning digital animation and puppetry production of The Arrival at the prestigious international festival of puppetry Le Festival Mondial de Theatre de Marrionette, Charlesville France. Karen has been involved in directing and devising numerous collaborative projects and performances for independent productions, festivals, outdoor spectacle and community performances including, UNIMA International Puppetry Festival (A Garden of Aussie Delights), Perth International Arts Festival (Prelude), Singapore Children’s Festival (Puppetrazzi),Alice Desert Festival (The Magic Garden Project), Mowanjum Cultural Festival(Digital Shadow Puppetry), Zest Festival(The Colour of Ritual;The Power of the Beautiful), Cairns indigenous Arts Fair, Gascoyne in May Festival (Architects of Spectacle;Narrators of the ShipWreckCoas), Sculpture by the Sea Bondi and Cottesloe through GhostNets Australia.
Working with the multi-award winning Ghostnets Australia Art Project she has collaborated with Torres Strait Islander Artists and Indigenous artists from Cape York Penninsula to create puppetry projects and installations that have toured nationally through the “Life in Your Hands: Art from Solastagia” exhibition. The collaborative digital film and puppetry project “The Young man and the Ghostnet” telling stories of the impacts of ghostnets on cultural and marine ecology contributed to the GNA receiving a WWF award for innovation and excellence. The film has been translated into 3 languages and has toured internationally with exhibitions to Paris, Monaco, Hawaii, Brazil, Alaska, Indonesia and New Zealand. Karen was Artistic Director for Black Swan State Theatre co-production with Gascoyne Arts Council “How High The River” a cross-cultural community theatre project in Carnarvon for the WA Stories Project andwas Artistic Director of the cross-cultural water spectacle community puppetry project Mandjar Dreaming focusing on Nyoongar cultural stories of place and belonging for the opening of the Stretch Festival 2015. Karen recently worked as Dramaturg for indigenous Choreographer Janine Oxenhamand indigenous elders and community in Carnarvon on the AusDance Future Landings regional dance project “Willy Willy”. Most recently Karen was invited as a guest Australian puppetry artist to participate in the creative development of Transit with Pascal Vergnault and Cecile Doutey for Theatre Pour 2 Mains in Nantes France.. Since 2001 she has also brought her arts practice to communities affected by trauma and natural disasters and was a founding member and advisor to the board of the National Creative Recovery Network dedicated to developing specialized disaster response arts practice to support community resilience and post traumatic growth.