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Heath Robinson and the Labour-Saving Home

31 Jan 2019
6:00 pm - 8:30 pm

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The illustrated talk will be given by Professor Deborah Sugg Ryan (University of Portsmouth) and will complement the current exhibition at the Museum – Heath Robinson’s Home Life.

In 1934 the new commercial culture of efficiency and labour-saving in suburban England that the Ideal Home Exhibition had helped to create was sufficiently established for the show to poke fun at it. The show’s centerpiece was a Tudorbethan house named ‘The Gadgets’ designed by the cartoonist Heath Robinson. This talk will examine Robinson’s house in the wider context of the design and material culture of the interwar labour-saving home, which included not only gadgets but also space-saving metamorphic furniture.

The evening starts with a reception in the Museum from 6pm with the talk at 7pm in the Verden Gallery.  The Museum galleries and shop will be open during the reception and again after the talk until 8.30pm to give those attending an opportunity to enjoy the exhibitions.

Professor Sugg Ryan
Professor Sugg Ryan is Professor of Design History and Theory and Associate Dean (Research) in the Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries at the University of Portsmouth. She is series consultant and presenter on BBC2’s A House Through Time, which will return for a second series in 2019. 

Her recent research explores the material culture and design of the home and domestic space, with a particular focus on the interwar home and the Ideal Home Show. Her latest book, Ideal Homes, 1918-39: Domestic Design and Suburban Modernism was published by Manchester University Press in the Studies in Design and Material Culture series in 2018. Deborah is currently writing a book on the past, present and future of the kitchen.

Professor Sugg Ryan’s book will be on sale in the Museum shop and she is happy to sign copies on the night.

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