Oundle, Peterborough PE8 4EE
This book takes a nostalgic look back to the imaginative world of William Heath Robinson, one of the few artists to have given his name to the English language. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the expression Heath Robinson is used to describe ‘any absurdly ingenious and impracticable device’. You will find plenty of them here. Very Heath Robinson is full of quirky contraptions for lighting cigars, making coffee, extinguishing candles and generally making everyday life easy. You can even mow the lawn in comfort thanks to the super deluxe Ransomes’ motor mower, complete with wireless, drinks cabinet and tiffin table.
A dozen collections of Heath Robinson’s work have been published over the last 80 years, starting in his lifetime, but most have been compilations of pictures with minimal text. Very Heath Robinson is the first to explain the technical and social background out of which the pictures grew and to weave art and history into a connected story. It portrays Heath Robinson as the visionary he was, foreseeing technical advances decades before they occurred and commenting wryly on urban issues such as traffic jams, litter and flat living that regularly niggle us today.
Adam Hart-Davis is the perfect person to set the artist’s mechanical fantasies in context, to tell the stories of rapid technological and social change that lay behind Heath Robinson’s idiosyncratic brand of satire and to laugh along with the jokes. He has even built his own Heath Robinson-style machine.
Adam is a scientist, author, photographer, historian and broadcaster, well known in the UK for presenting the BBC television series Local Heroes and What the Romans Did for Us, the latter spawning several spin-off series involving the Victorians, the Tudors, the Stuarts and the Ancients. He was also a co-presenter of Tomorrow’s World, and presented Science Shack.