The Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries shares news that Prof Deborah Sugg Ryan, from the University of Portsmouth, gave a public lecture at the Heath Robinson Museum in Pinner on 31 January to accompany their current exhibition Heath Robinson’s Home Life.
Deborah’s lecture was on ‘Heath Robinson and the Labour-Saving Home’. It featured Robinson’s ‘The Gadgets’, a two-third scale fully working house he designed for the 1934 Ideal Home Exhibition, which was the inspiration for Wallace and Gromit’s house in The Wrong Trousers. Deborah examined Robinson’s house in the wider context of the design and material culture of the interwar labour-saving home, which included not only gadgets but also space-saving metamorphic furniture.
From about 1930 onwards Heath Robinson’s humour was centred on domestic life. In 1934 his house “The Gadgets” was constructed at the Ideal Home Exhibition, and in 1936 How to Live in a Flat, the first of his series of “How to…” books were published.
The exhibition shows the early series of “Ideal Home” cartoons published in 1933 and rare photographs of the construction of Heath Robinson’s house at the Ideal Home Exhibition. It was peopled with more than thirty life-like moving figures, all busy about their daily tasks, assisted by numerous contraptions. It was this construction that later provided the inspiration for the opening scenes of the Wallace and Gromit film ‘The Wrong Trousers’.
Including original artwork from How to Live in a Flat which gently satirised modernist architecture and Art Deco design as well as his usual target of people who take themselves too seriously. Subsequent books in that series address gardening, motoring and marriage. During the Second World War he presented his hilarious ideas of How to Run a Communal Home and How to Build a New World assisted by a host of new gadgets. Examples of the set of nursery china that Heath Robinson designed in 1927 for a Knightsbridge department store will be on show.