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Entry to the Special Exhibition is included with your museum entry ticket.

Sidney Sime was a painter, illustrator and caricaturist. He was born in 1867 in Manchester to a poor family. He worked in the coal mines as a boy, then for a linen draper and a barber, before taking up sign writing and entering Liverpool school of art.

He moved to London to work for Pick-Me-Up and other magazines, making both theatrical caricatures and sinisterly humorous drawings. His work, although influenced by Aubrey Beardsley and Japanese prints, was truly original.

In 1898 he inherited a house and money from his uncle, an Edinburgh solicitor. He moved to Scotland to occupy his new property and to paint. However, he soon felt isolated, sold the house in Scotland and moved to Crown Cottage in Worplesdon, Surrey.

In 1904 Sime first met Lord Dunsany, who both enjoyed the company of this eccentric artist and greatly admired his work. They shared a fascination with imaginary worlds and fantastical tales. Dunsany chose Sime to illustrate his first book, The Gods of Pegana, a poetic fantasy, and was delighted with the result. Their collaboration continued until the 1930s.

In 1909 he formed a friendship with Lord Howard de Walden who employed him to make set and costume designs for his theatrical productions. Another member of their circle was the composer Joseph Holbrooke, for whose operas Sime also made designs.

After the Great War Sime devoted much of his time to rendering his fantasies in large oil paintings, a number of which are shown here.

William Heath Robinson acknowledged him as an influence in My Line of Life.


Permanent Exhibition

Our permanent Heath Robinson exhibition combines original artwork with books, photographs, film & digital media to tell the full story of Heath Robinson’s artistic career.

29 Jun - 22 Sep

Michael Rosen: The Illustrators

The exhibition highlights the interplay between writer and illustrator. Michael Rosen’s children’s writing has delighted generations – and now a landmark exhibition journeys through his life and career via a selection of original illustrations from his books.

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