Heath Robinson Trust offers unique rewards in urgent £430,000 Kickstarter museum appeal

By Culture24 Reporter | 15 November 2013

Fancy owning a limited edition Heath Robinson illustration? An urgent fundraising appeal could be the first Kickstarter campaign to create a new museum in Britain

An image of an illustration showing a tank going to war under a yellow sky
Heath Robinson at War (1942). Cover design© Estate of JC Robinson
A Trust hoping to devote a museum to the work of William Heath Robinson, the artist whose witty depictions of tales by the likes of William Shakespeare and Rudyard Kipling made him one of the 20th century’s best-loved illustrators, is calling for urgent public backing from the public in return for rare works of art.

A Kickstarter page, featuring clips from Michael Rosen, the patron of the group, and Wallace and Gromit artist Peter Lord, allows supporters to pledge anything from £6 to £5,000 towards the project, with rewards ranging from an e-book of Heath Robinson’s final story to an original glazed drawing signed by the artist himself. The appeal has a deadline of December 3.

“The development phase of this £1.6 million project is now complete,” says Geoffrey Beare, a Trustee of the William Heath Robinson Trust, which has given £50,000 to the cause.

“The second round application to the Heritage Lottery Fund for the bulk of the capital needed was submitted at the beginning of September.

“It will be considered by the London committee at the beginning of December, but we won’t succeed unless we can convince them that we are able to raise the required partnership funding of £430,000.

“We have been seeking funding from grant-giving Trusts and have had a degree of success, with £75,000 pledged by the Garfield Weston Foundation and £30,000 by the Foyle Foundation.

“We are in dialogue with local government to secure the balance of a West House trust fund that should add another £26,000 towards our target. A local fundraising campaign has just been launched in Harrow and has already raised £16,000.”

The Trust hopes to create a major centre for the understanding and appreciation of Heath Robinson at West House, built with a copper roof, walls of white brick and window frames of English chestnut.

Postcards, books and limited edition examples are among the rewards showcasing the inimitable talent of Heath Robinson, whose World War I cartoons, which used gentle satire and absurdity to lampoon ominous enemy propaganda and relieve some of the fear and depression of the time, won widespread popularity.

Known for countering stories of mustard gas by showing British troops confronted with laughing gas, the Trust also holds a number of letters exchanged between the artist and servicemen and women. Many of them thanked the artist for his much-needed injection of humour.

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An image of a black and white illustration of some sort of machine surrounded by people
Digging the raw materials. Messrs G & T Earle's new patent combination action digger at work (1928)© Estate of JC Robinson
An image of a colour illustration of people in a biscuit factory operating a milling machine
Mr Heath Robinson's Conception of a Modern Biscuit Plant (1933). For Crawford's© Estate of JC Robinson
An image of a black and white illustration of a man smoking a pipe while at an easal
London Sketch Club Smoking Conversazione: Dec 4 1913. This 100-edition print is on offer for pledges of £150© Estate of JC Robinson
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