The MAD Museum is currently displaying its first temporary exhibition – The Inventions of Heath Robinson.
On view until Sunday 22nd November ’15, this exhibition comprises of a special collection of illustrations, posters and books by the iconic British artists, Heath Robinson.
Due to the fact this exhibition is on, we thought we would answer the question…
Who is Heath Robinson?
William Heath Robinson (1872-1944)
Heath Robinson was a British cartoonist and illustrator best known for his humorous drawings of over-elaborate inventions which accomplish very simple tasks.
Now a household name, Robinson drew thousands of pieces of art, spanning two world wars, the Victorian age of the machine and the rise of modernism. These times are all reflected in his work and the phrase “Heath-Robinson” became established in the English dictionary as a term for any over-complicated contraption in 1912.
Heath Robinson was born in 1872 into a long line of artists. After studying at Islington Art School and the Royal Academy, he started his career as a landscape artist. He had little commercial success and so began drawing book, magazine and newspaper illustrations. Robinson rapidly established himself as a talented and original practitioner, providing artwork for a number of books including ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress’ and ‘Water Babies’.
In the run up to and during World War One, Robinson started drawing a series of illustrations in magazines such as ‘The Tatler’ and ‘The Sketch’. They poked fun at modern living, carrying out normal tasks such as pancake making and potato peeling to outlandish extremes, often using complex and long-winded methods. Very quickly his work received popularity and Robinson became known as “The Gadget King”.
He was one of the first artists to belittle the Germans in WW1, showing them using laughing gas to overcome British troops and parachuting in kettles of boiling water instead of firing bullets. These images brought welcomed comic relief to British soldiers and civilians and his ironic and bizarre depictions perfectly summed up the idiocy of war.
With the Second World War however, three of Robinson’s sons were enlisted and his gentle humoristic illustrations ventured away from mocking the Nazis. Robinson called it “the disastrous war”.
Heath Robinson went on to concoct weird and wonderfully overcomplicated contraptions until he passed away in September 1944 .
Often compared to his American counterpart Rube Goldberg. Robinson and Goldberg essentially depicted the same kind of whimsical devices, their main difference being Goldberg was a trained engineer and his creation were more sensible and practical while Robinson’s conveyed British humour, exaggerated imagination and the artistic skill of a classically trained illustrator.
Heath Robinon’s importance as an innovator in the fields of illustration and advertising was considerable and his complicated inventions provided a source of inspiration for the Founder of The MAD Museum, Richard Simmons, as well as the creators of Wallace and Gromit, Monty Python and many other artists, designers and engineers around the world.Read More »
Saturday 26th September – Sunday 22nd November 2015
The MAD (Mechanical Art & Design) Museum announces its first major temporary exhibition with works by Heath Robinson (1872–1944), a prolific cartoonist and illustrator best known for his humorous drawings of over-elaborate inventions which accomplish very simple tasks.
On view from 26th September ’15 until 22nd November ’15, the exhibition features an extraordinary collection of original illustrations, posters and books, which all demonstrate Heath Robinson’s most celebrated work: witty, exaggerated devices. These pieces have been provided by The Chris Beetles Gallery, Sheldrake Press and private collections. The exhibition will also include a 3D augmented reality image of a well-known Heath Robinson drawing, by Turi Cacciatore.
Heath Robinson was born in 1872 into a family of artists. He started his career as a landscape artist, but when he realised that wouldn’t pay the bills, he began drawing book, magazine and newspaper illustrations and rapidly established himself as a talented and original practitioner. Described by Philip Pullman as the “Grand High Celestial Mechanic of Absurdity”, the eccentric illustrator drew thousands of pieces of art, spanning two world wars, the Victorian age of the machine and the rise of modernism. These times are all reflected in his work and “Heath-Robinson” became established in the English dictionary as a term for any over-complicated contraption. His importance as an innovator in the fields of illustration and advertising was considerable and his complicated inventions provided a source of inspiration for Richard Simmons, the Founder of The MAD Museum, the creators of Wallace and Gromit and many other kinetic artists around the world.
In association with Sheldrake Press, “The Inventions of Heath Robinson” will be supporting two Heath Robinson Contraption competitions, one intended for school pupils around the UK and one aimed at Heath Robinson enthusiasts, engineers, sculptors and artists.
This exhibition is generously supported by The Chris Beetles Gallery and Sheldrake Press, publishers of the forthcoming book Very Heath Robinson.
For any questions regarding “The Inventions of Heath Robinson” contact Katie Wilson, Head of Marketing at The MAD Museum.
Email: click here Tel: 01926 865839
Carole Souter, chief executive of the National Heritage Memorial Fund said: “These fantastically wry cartoons represent British humour at its best.”Read More »
Saturday 18th July until Monday 7th September 2015
Early this year The MAD Museum installed MAD Marbles which is essentially a giant interactive wall for visitors to build their own rolling ball creations on. Using inspiration from around the museum, the wall encourages creative thinking and systematic design but it is a lot of fun! The aim of the game is to use the various track parts to make the marble travel from the top of the wall to the bottom without whizzing off.
This Summer The MAD Museum invites you to invent a new weird and wonderful track part for MAD Marbles.
What do you want on the wall?
Loops and hoops, elevators, slopes, staircases, tubes, spiral tracking, chimes and jumps – the possibilities are endless.
Release your inner inventor! This design competition is open to all age groups, draw your craziest creation and post it to The MAD Museum.
Download the Design Sheet HERE…MAD Marbles Design Sheet
What could you win?
The winner will receive a goodie bag full of MAD treats and their winning track part will be made into a real piece and go on the museum’s MAD Marbles wall. Not only that but the winner’s name will also be printed on the new track piece.
Everyone that uses the triumphant track piece will know it’s yours!
The MAD Museum exhibits mind-blowing artwork from some of the world’s most pioneering inventors, join the illustrious list this Summer!
All entries need to be received by 5pm on Monday 7th September 2015. The Winner will be announced before Friday 11th September 2015.
Sending Your Entries
Design it at home and then drop it in or post it to:
The MAD Museum, 4/5 Henley Street, Stratford upon Avon, Warwickshire. CV37 6PT.
Please include your name, age, email address and address with your design.
Any questions please email email@example.com
W: www.themadmuseum.co.uk E: firstname.lastname@example.org T: 01789 269 356
Weekdays: 10am – 5pm
Weekends and Holidays*: 10am –5.30pm
(Warwickshire School Holidays & National Bank Holidays) Last entry 45mins before closing time.
Experience what it’s like making artwork in a functioning workshop.
The Team at MAD have opened up their normally off-limits workshop to offer a construction activity to small groups.
Get behind the scenes at The MAD Museum and build your very own piece of automata in the same room machines and sculptures are fixed and assembled every day.
Please note workshops are an add-on service to a group visit, they are not provided as a standalone activity.
|Subject focus||Design Technology, Engineering and Art|
|Places per session||8 places|
|Group supervising ratio||2:8|
|MAD Technicians per session||Up to 2|
|Cost||£6 per kit|
Dates and Bookings: These sessions run during term times and museum opening hours. Please get in touch for availability. Email: click here Tel: 01926 865 839
What you make on the day: The Automata Kits
These pieces demonstrate how crank shafts work.
The kits have a wooden base and little handle which moves the wooden item on top. Each child will construct their own kit, putting the wooden pieces together with the end result being a painted hand cranked piece of automata with the design of their choice on.
These kits are challenging but still simple enough for everyone to construct themselves. The pieces are made to slot together easily in a snug fit so only a very small amount of glue is needed.
Children will choose which shape they would like at the top of their automata piece on the day and will take their made creation away with them after the visit.
A Typical Workshop Visit
A group of around 15 pupils arrive at the museum. Half of the group explore the museum (1 hour) and the only half go straight into the workshop (1 hour). At the mid-way point of the trip, the split groups will switch over activities.
Explore the museum and understand design principals through hands-on learning. Aimed at children aged 7-11yrs (KS2).
Children will be brought into the workshop and be asked to put on aprons (provided by MAD). A member of staff will explain what a crank shaft is, how it works and how it is used in today’s world.
Then each child will be given their automata kits to make and paint. Members of staff will be on hand to offer support throughout the session.
For Larger Groups
Please note the workshop is a small compact room, we cannot provide this activity for large groups. If you are interested, The MAD Museum can provide automata kits for groups to construct outside of the museum, in the classroom or at home. A free instruction manual will also be provided.
We do encourage a trip to the museum to support and inspire this automata building activity.
What Other Teachers Thought –
“Thank you for the brilliant day that I and the children had on Wednesday.
Our arrival was excellent. In the number of years that I have been teaching, I have never ever arrived at a place to find a team ready and waiting for the class. You immediately came across as knowledgeable, organised and professional and I know that, from a class teachers point of view, if you can show that a teacher can take a more supporting role and let the guys in the know get on with things then that is a huge weight off their mind.
The children loved the museum to the point that I had to calm a few of them down and adored the marble run wall. I couldn’t drag most of the boys away from it!
The workshops were absolutely brilliant; perfectly timed and really engaging. The children didn’t stop talking about them all the way home. I think the choice of making them a snug fit so glue is not needed was a really good idea. The children also learnt a lot about the different components.
I mentioned to the staff that it is really comforting to know that the area is secure so that the children can wander round without your having to know where they are all the time.
Thank you for an absolutely brilliant day. Both the children and adults loved it. Please pass on out thanks to the team and we shall make sure to visit again very soon.”
Mr Greygoose at Acorns Primary School.
“The pupils had a fantastic visit – they were very enthusiastic and also put together a display before going home!”
Kirstin at The Ogden Trust Partnership, Bidford-on-Avon Primary School.
New kinetic artwork rolls in to MAD…
A massive thank you to rolling ball artists Robert Moore (UK) and Jelle Bakker (NL) for sending their latest wonderful creations to The MAD Museum. Both have already previously contributed to MAD’s display collection and it is a pleasure to be able to show some more of their work.
Jelle sent this crazy machine over from Holland, here it is in its new home:
Jelle is available for commissions, please check out his work:
Rob Moore hand delivered his beautiful RBS to MAD last Friday:
Rob is based in Norfolk, England and is available for commissions. Please do check out his work:
Read More »
Claire Potter, a freelance writer for the Guardian recently visited our MAD Museum. Click here to read her piece (and to see Richard’s reply at the bottom).Read More »
We would just like to say a big thank you to everyone who visited our MAD Museum over February half term.
We received record visitor figures and loads of lovely feedback.
Thank you very much for keeping us going!
(Derek found his marbles! Trying out the new MAD Marbles wall we launched Feb Half Term.)Read More »