The Art of W.Heath Robinson
Wednesday 27 October 2021 to Sunday 30 January 2022
Willis Museum and Sainsbury Gallery, Basingstoke RG21 7QD
From Wednesday 27 October 2021 to Sunday 30 January 2022, the Willis Museum and Sainsbury Gallery in Basingstoke is hosting a new exhibition, The Art of W.Heath Robinson, in partnership with the Heath Robinson Museum. William Heath Robinson (1872-1944) known as ‘The Gadget King’, is most widely remembered for his wonderfully humorous drawings. His name is still used today to describe the kind of ingenious contraption or absurdly over-complicated design that featured in many of his cartoon-like illustrations. However, humorous art was only his third choice of career and one that he turned to almost by accident.
On leaving art school, his ambition was to become a landscape painter but book illustration provided a more reliable source of income. Following the bankruptcy of a publisher, Robinson turned to high class weekly magazines who paid well for drawings and within a year he was acclaimed a rare talent as a humorous artist. While his unique style of eccentric work for magazines, advertising and illustration flourished, he never forgot his roots as a serious artist. For his own pleasure he continued to paint in watercolour, experimenting with effects of light and colour to create a body of charming works which surprise and delight.
This exhibition reveals that, alongside his well-known humorous works, Heath Robinson created sumptuous, renowned book illustrations for, amongst others, Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Water Babies; some exquisitely painted in colour and all full of rich detail. The exhibition also shows a series of exceptional watercolours. Visitors to the exhibition will discover beautiful, impressionistic scenes, showcasing his pure artistic skill.
This extraordinary exhibition is a collaboration between Hampshire Cultural Trust, who operate the Willis Museum, and the Heath Robinson Museum, who have worked to bring together the different genres of Robinson’s work. The specially curated selection celebrates his timeless sense of humour and wonderful draughtsmanship and recognises Heath Robinson as an artist whose work is integral to British cultural heritage.
Visual Arts Exhibitions Manager for Hampshire Cultural Trust, Tara McKinney Marinus commented, “We are thrilled to bring the exceptional art of Heath Robinson to the region. This selection of works brings together his delightfully rendered watercolours and illustrations with his whimsical drawings, to provide a unique exhibition that will both amuse and enchant in equal measure.”
Collection and Exhibitions Manager for The Heath Robinson Museum, Geoffery Beare said, “We are delighted to be able to show Heath Robinson’s versatility and the sheer beauty of his original artwork to a new audience.”
The Willis Museum and Sainsbury Gallery is operated by Hampshire Cultural Trust, an independent charity set up in 2014 to promote Hampshire as a county that offers outstanding cultural experiences to both its residents and visitors.