Saturday, 17 November 2018

Cartoonist still speaks to us today

Adam Hart-Davis
Kenton Theatre

THE irrepressible Adam Hart-Davis delivered a light-hearted illustrated talk about a great British eccentric, William Heath Robinson.

Many will be familiar with Heath Robinson’s drawings of crazily complicated machines to get things done, be that rocking six babies to sleep simultaneously or building the Saltash Bridge.

Heath Robinson’s reliance on pulleys, knotted string and improvisation has meant that the term “a bit Heath Robinson” has become a byword for anything makeshift.

Certainly his inventive approach struck a chord in the “Make Do and Mend” era, but a member of the audience was able to tell us that he still uses Heath Robinson’s ideas in present-day engineering lectures.

Hart-Davis gave a very entertaining overview of the life and work of this talented illustrator. He was a gifted watercolourist, but he is best known for his drawings, several of which were commissioned by advertisers keen to exploit Heath Robinson’s quirky humour.

His interest in tips for compact living remain relevant today. Imagine a machine to lever down a temporary garden from a flat window or a method of setting up a spare room suspended from your living room ceiling, to accommodate an overnight guest!

Hart-Davis evidently adored talking about his book, Very Heath Robinson. With his quips and the slide show of lovely Heath Robinson images, this talk was a verbal and visual delight.

Susan Creed

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