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The weird and wonderful world of Heath Robinson comes to Hampshire
9:08am Sunday 3rd March 2013 in News
WILLIAM Heath Robinson was very well known in the 1930s for his humorous drawings and is still fondly remembered as the Gadget King.
But creating humorous art wasn’t his first choice of career – in fact it was his third.
When the London-born artist left the Royal Academy in 1895 he wanted to become a landscape painter. He soon realised his first love simply wouldn’t pay the bills, however, so he followed his two older brothers into book illustration.
He was gifted and established himself quickly but, unfortunately, the magazine he was working for was declared bankrupt and he found himself jobless with a young wife and child to support.
He began working for high class magazines such as The Tatler and The Sketch, who paid well for highly-finished humorous drawings, and within a year he was being hailed as uniquely talented.
For a number of years, he worked successfully as both an illustrator and humorous artist but, after the end of the First World War, there was no longer a market for lavishly-illustrated books so he focused on his humorous pictures, which were becoming increasingly in demand for advertising.
In his pictures, he created weird and wonderful machines and gadgets such as a highly-involved potato peeling contraption, a factory line for double Gloucester cheese and a flying machine.
The artist said of his work: “Whatever success [my] drawings may have had was not only due to the fantastic machinery and devices, and to the absurd situations, but to the style in which they were drawn.
“This was designed to imply that the artist had complete belief in what he was drawing.
He was seeing no joke in the matter, in fact he was part of the joke.
“For this purpose a rather severe style was used, in which everything was laboriously and clearly defined.
“There could be no doubt, mystery, or mere suggestion about something in which you implicitly believed, and of this belief it was necessary to persuade the spectator.
“At the slightest hint that the artist was amused, the delicate fabric of humour would fade away.”
A collection of his humorous ink drawings goes on display today at St Barbe Museum in Lymington, alongside many of his beautiful watercolour paintings that were created to illustrate works by Shakespeare, Hans Christian Andersen and Rudyard Kipling as well as his own stories.
The exhibition runs until April 20 and is open Monday to Saturday from 10am to 4pm.
Admission to the museum is £4.
For more information, visit stbarbemuseum.
org.uk or call 01590 676969.