Friday, 16 January 2009

Heath Robinson Wall Sculpture - Graduate Show

'A simple device to facilitate artistic endeavour from the bough of a sturdy oak’ (A tribute to W. Heath Robinson)
By Amanda Weight

Amanda says-
"Since exhibiting this sculpture at the Graduate Show at The Gallery at Bevere I have been repeatedly asked two questions:
‘Why Heath Robinson?’ and ‘How did you make it?’

I’m glad to have the opportunity to answer in the hope of giving greater understanding of a piece which may be considered ‘off the wall’!

Heath Robinson is most famous for his humorous illustrations and ingenious contraptions which were usually made from everyday objects often tied, stuck and generally cobbled together. He is lesser known however for his passion for landscape painting.

Through his illustrations he poked fun at ‘modern living’ reminding the viewer not to take life too seriously, and that given a little ingenuity and utility most problems can be overcome.

I decided to make a tribute which embraced Heath Robinson’s love of landscape painting and the drawn line, whilst reflecting his light hearted approach to problem solving and his ability to maximise the value of every day objects.

The ‘simple device’ (of which only the front section is portrayed) is designed to be used like a cinema ice cream seller’s tray; hanging around the neck from a pair of old trouser braces which are attached by buttons. In order to climb up into a tree the device is hung over the back and swung into place once a comfortable position in the bough has been found.

Description from left to right:

The picnic basket - an absolute essential for overall enjoyment, is bolted to the artist’s box, the drawer of which is open to reveal useful bits and pieces including a candle and matches to be used in the event of being overtaken by time! Resting on the box is the sketch pad and pencil which require no explanation and below is a bird’s nest and leaves to remind the viewer of the purpose of the piece. Attached via screws is the artist’s palette in which holes have been cut to hold the pots required for brushes and water and bolted to the far right of the device is a fishing reel. Hanging from the turned brackets are a cup and whistle. Should a nice cup of tea be required the artist has only to blow on the whistle whereupon a willing and able assistant will come rushing along with a kettle of boiling water, the artist lowers the teapot attached to the fishing reel and water is poured in to defuse with the tealeaves already in the pot, now all that is required is to unhook the cup, lean back and enjoy the landscape –

This piece was made from Vingerling Stoneware.
The objects included were hand modelled individually and then joined together with the piece lying on its back direct to the kiln shelf. Much keyhole working was required and a large number of props were necessary to hold the pieces in order that they wouldn’t flop during firing. The piece took 3 weeks to dry fully and the biscuit firing was very slow to 1000˚ C. The under glaze line was then added and the final firing was to 1260˚ C.

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