Founding artist and former Artistic Director of Spare Parts Puppet Theatre, Noriko Nishimoto has been named a ‘living treasure’ in the 2015 Western Australian State Living Treasures Awards.
The Awards appointed by the WA Department of Culture and the Arts are designed to acknowledge leading WA artists and their contribution to the state’s cultural life. Other artists awarded ‘living treasure’ status include actress, Faith Clayton, author, Joan London, choreographer, Chrissie Parrott, designer, Herbert Pinter and musician, Dave Warner. Past recipients include Robert Juniper, Peter Cowan, Queenie McKenzie, Howard Taylor, Elizabeth Jolley, Kira Bousloff, Tom Hungerford, Jimmy Chi and Richard Woldendorp.
Master puppeteer, Miss Nishimoto is a founding artist of Spare Parts after coming to Perth from Japan in 1981 to take part in the company’s inaugural production, Faust at the 1982 Festival of Perth (now known as the Perth International Art Festival). Miss Nishimoto then went on to stay with the company for 19 years. From 1997 to 2001, she was the Artistic Director of the company and initiated national and international tours, as well as the Company Associates training program and the School of Puppetry. As a director she created many acclaimed and popular productions, such as Cat Balloon, The Bugalugs Bum Thief and The Bunyip of Berkeley’s Creek. She remains very much involved with the company and recently co-created Spare Parts’ new production, Fox, which premiered in October 2015.
Artistic Director of Spare Parts, Philip Mitchell said that the company was very proud and excited by this major acknowledgment of Miss Nishimoto’s contribution to Australian culture.
“Long have we known that Noriko has had a major influence on the development of contemporary puppetry in Australia – her legacy is extraordinary and outstanding,” he said. “On behalf of everyone at Spare Parts, in particular the many artists that have been inspired by her and all the wonderful puppets she has brought to life, we congratulate Noriko on this very special award – an acknowledgement of a great artist on the world stage.”