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Heath Robinson at War exhibition at Mottisfont

A cartoon illustration of 'confusing the enemy's sense of direction' by William Heath Robinson, on display at Mottisfont, Hampshire
Confusing the enemy’s sense of direction at cross-roads in a rural parish, by William Heath Robinson | © The William Heath Robinson Trust

Saturday 20 January – Sunday 14 April: over 50 artworks of humorous drawings from both World Wars, demonstrating Heath Robinson's ability to counter the horrors of war with gentle satire and absurdity.

This touring exhibition contains a wide selection of Heath Robinson’s humorous drawings from both World Wars. You'll also be able read letters from the troops and the public thanking him for his morale-raising efforts.

Popular among civilians and soldiers alike, Heath Robinson’s war cartoons demonstrate his dry, ironic humour even in the face of national despair.

In each World War, Heath Robinson proved his ability to counter, by the application of gentle satire and absurdity, both the pompous German propaganda and the fear and depression gendered by the horrors of war.

'I believe that our sense of humour played a greater part than we were always aware of in saving us from despair during those days of trial.’ - William Heath Robinson

Demonstrating humour in the face of absurdity, this exhibition not only helps us to understand the historic role of artists in difficult times, but also represents an important part of the work of one of Britain’s finest artists, and the impact humour and creativity has on public morale during difficult times.

A cartoon illustration of 'netting tanks' by Heath Robinson, on display at Mottisfont, Hampshire
Netting tanks for dealing with a threatened menace on the Western Front, by William Heath Robinson | © The William Heath Robinson Trust

Plan your visit

Heath Robinson at War runs from Saturday 20 January – Sunday 14 April. Mottisfont's art gallery is open 11am-4.30pm. Last entry into the property, house and gallery is 30 minutes before closing.

Entry: there's no need to book, unless you're planning a group visit (for 15 or more - see our group visits page for more information). Peak admission applies on bank holidays (29 March and 1 April), otherwise normal property admission applies (free for National Trust members, Art Fund members and under-fives). If you’re with a carer or essential companion, they visit for free.

We may get very busy between Saturday 9 - 17 March (National Lottery Open Week) and during the Easter holidays, particularly over the bank holiday weekend. Mornings tend to be busier than afternoons. If you have the flexibility, a weekday visit is generally quieter than a weekend, even during school holidays. If you can only visit over the weekend, Saturdays are usually less busy than Sundays.

Parking: there's free parking in the car park next to the Welcome Centre, including accessible spaces. Please note that our car park surface can become uneven and muddy, particularly during periods of bad weather. Our car park can fill quickly on our busiest days, including the Easter holidays, so you may need to queue. In extreme circumstances we may have to close the car park to allow spaces to free up. Please don't park in the village or on nearby verges.

Accessibility: the gallery is on the second floor. For those unable to use the stairs, a digital version of the exhibition is available on lower levels. Toilets and changing facilities located at the entrance and at key points around the grounds. Buggies/pushchairs welcome in the gardens, but not in the house - please be prepared to leave these outside if going inside. Ramped or level entrances into the house. Volunteer-driven mobility buggy service available.

Refreshments: drinks, snacks and light lunches available from our cafés and additional outlets. Our cafés are busiest between 11am and 2pm, so you may need to queue at these peak times. If you’re looking to get a quick bite to takeaway, we recommend popping in before peak lunch hour to avoid the crowds.

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