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Heath Robinson

Full name: William Heath Robinson
Gender: Male
Born: May 31, 1872 in Stroud Green, Greater London, Great Britain
Died: September 13, 1944 in Highgate, Greater London, Great Britain
Country: GBR Great Britain
Sport: Art Competitions

Biography

Heath Robinson entered three of his works in the 1932 Olympic Art competition and the titles of them highlight the eccentricity of his style and when you look at one of his entries, A New Machine For Cleaning Out the Holes on a Golf Course, you get some idea of what he created most of the time. It was a drawing of a magnificent and ornate, yet fairly useless, machine for cleaning out holes in golf courses. Many of his works were along these lines hence, when you hear the expression “It is Heath Robinson”, it is a phrase meaning\: "An absurdly ingenious and impracticable device" and the expression entered the English language in 1912. Robinson must be one of the few, if not only Olympian to have an entry in the Oxford English Dictionary named after them.

Heath Robinson was born into a family of artists as he and his brothers Charles and Thomas followed in the footsteps of their father Thomas, Sr., who was a writer, artist and chief illustrator for the Penny Illustrated Paper and they had an uncle who worked on the “Illustrated London News”. Another of Robinson’s brothers, George, was a publisher’s manager. Robinson studied at the Islington Art College and then the Royal Academy. He had wanted to be a landscape artist but his career started as a book illustrator and his early works included including Hans Christian Andersen's Fairy Tales. He then obtained commissions working for the magazines Tatler and The Sketch which eventually took him into drawing cartoons of weird contraptions. One of the many contraptions he drew was a camera to enable a person to take a photograph of themselves. And who said the “selfie” was a modern-day thing? Despite his elaborate designs, Robinson was not an engineer and it is doubtful that any of his creations would actually have worked. His work was not entirely restricted to the drawing of weird and wonderful contraptions. He made scenery for the Alhambra and Empire theatres in London, provided murals for the Knickerbocker Bar and the children’s room on the cruise liner the Empress of Britain.

Robinson had four sons and a daughter. Three of his sons, Quentin, Oliver and Tom all served in the Army in the second World War, while his daughter Joan was a nurse. His fourth son Alan was a monk. Plans for a Heath Robinson Museum at Pinner, London, were announced in June 2014.

Results

Games Age City Sport Event Team NOC Rank Medal
1932 Summer 60 Los Angeles Art Competitions Mixed Painting, Unknown Event Great Britain GBR AC
1932 Summer 60 Los Angeles Art Competitions Mixed Painting, Unknown Event Great Britain GBR AC
1932 Summer 60 Los Angeles Art Competitions Mixed Painting, Unknown Event Great Britain GBR AC

Mixed Painting, Unknown Event

Games Age City Sport Country Phase Unit Rank Title
1932 Summer 60 Los Angeles Art Competitions Great Britain Final Standings AC Clam Spearing in the Frozen North
1932 Summer 60 Los Angeles Art Competitions Great Britain Final Standings AC Learning Mountain Climbing in the Home
1932 Summer 60 Los Angeles Art Competitions Great Britain Final Standings AC Machines for clearing out Holes in Golf Courses
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