- The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has, as Villager readers will be aware, recognised the value of the works of Heath Robinson with the award of a grant to develop proposals to extend West House to enable his original works and associated artifacts to be appropriately displayed. A bid, based on these proposals, for a grant for the work has now been submitted to HLF by the two Trusts involved. These are the William Heath Robinson Trust (WHRT), which owns the collection of his works, and The West House and Heath Robinson Museum Trust (HRMT), which has a 125 year lease of the building.
- This is a bold project that will provide:
a permanent gallery where the internationally important original works by Heath Robinson can be displayed and the story of his life as an artist be told. All aspects of his career from his humorous drawings and stunning illustrations to his unpublished watercolours and landscapes will be on display, backed up by books, photographs, film and digital media.
- a second gallery for temporary exhibitions where works by other artists and illustrators of importance, as well as more of Heath Robinson works, specially themed, can be shown. We will also stage exhibitions of local interest that reflect the history and cultural diversity of the community in which the Museum will stand.
- An activity room adjoining the permanent gallery in which visitors of all ages, particularly families and schools, can take part in activities including the week’s challenge, e.g. building a contraption or drawing a picture illustrating a favourite book. The room can also be closed off for lectures, school workshops, storytelling and other educational and fun purposes.
- Secure storage for the WHRT collection of his original works.
- A museum shop.
Why do we need to do more at West House? The restoration of West House by HRMT has been a huge success and we now have a vibrant community venue, including a small gallery and a popular café in our beautiful Memorial Park. However, the space to display Heath Robinson’s work is far too limited and we must extend to do the work justice.
As well as our collection being truly extensive, it is of great cultural importance as evidenced by the letters of support for our project written by Sir Nicholas Serota (Director of the Tate Gallery), Desmond Shawe-Taylor (Keeper of the Queen’s Pictures) and Ian Dejardin (Dulwich Picture Gallery). One of our patrons, Michael Rosen (former Children’s Laureate, author and broadcaster) and Nick Park (creator of Wallace & Gromit), both Heath Robinson enthusiasts, have taken part in our fundraising video.
If our bid for a grant to finish the project is to be successful we need to raise matching funds of £430,000. So far we have pledges totalling £150,000. Grant giving bodies are beginning to respond and we have recently received pledges for £75,000 from Garfield Weston and £30,000 from the Foyle Foundation. For the first time we will be looking to crowdfunding as a source of funds, but, most importantly, we will also be mounting a local campaign. We are, therefore, appealing to all those who enjoy the beautiful illustrations by this internationally renowned artist and the gentle humour of the man known as the Gadget King, and to those who want to see a wonderful new facility which can be enjoyed by young and old alike in Pinner, to help us raise this money by making a donation.
- In addition to the sums raised from grant-giving bodies we are now adopting the crowdfunding approach to set the ball rolling in a more public way.