“William Heath Robinson’s lovable illustrations capture the pleasures of a more mechanical age, says Philip Pullman..”
In this Heath Robinson limited-edition print, the master of crazy contraptions imagines you can fly along at 20 m.p.h., have people serving beer on the wings and make merry under a party awning.
Flying for Fun
This Heath Robinson Limited Edition Print takes us back to the heady days of the 1920s. Air travel was still in its youth, and for someone with an active imagination like Heath Robinson, it offered exciting possibilities. At the pull of a lever, trains, cars and charabancs could take wing, airlifting passengers to their destinations. Airlines could offer themed excursions. Forget house parties. You could have aerial christenings, aerial concerts, even aerial booze-ups.
The Holiday Aeroplane falls into the last category. This typically prolific drawing is crammed with quirky cameos including a wing-top brass band, bar with real ale, motorized ice crusher and a charcoal grill for cooking chicken mid-air. We gave it as a limited-edition print to backers of the Kickstarter campaign we ran for Very Heath Robinson, a tribute by Adam Hart-Davis and Philip Pullman to the acknowledged master of crazy contraptions. The run is capped at 200. The first 100 have gone. The remaining prints are now available to purchase.
A4 landscape print of the Holiday Aeroplane with the signature W. Heath Robinson.
William Heath Robinson (1872-1944) aspired to be a landscape painter but made his living as a book illustrator and later, when the market for fine editions dried up after the First World War, doing humorous drawings for the magazines of the day, notably Tatler, The Bystander, The Strand Magazine and The Sketch. His speciality was to dream up enormously complicated machines for carrying out everyday tasks, such as pulling up your trousers or cooking breakfast from your bed, unlikely contraptions that looked as if they could never work but, on closer inspection, just might.
To his own surprise and embarrassment, he became a big name. The first electro-mechanical computer at Bletchley Park was called after him and he gave 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’. His designs have given hours of pleasure to generations of readers and influenced the making of Aardman Animations’ Wallace & Gromit and other films containing chain-reaction machines.