Robert Race

Muttering Birds
Watching the Girls Go By
Small Surprise Birds

Most of my pieces are in driftwood and found materials, and all move in some way. Individual pieces are unique and vary considerably in size and materials.

Photo: Marc Hill (Apex)

"Immoment toys, things of such dignity
As we greet modern friends withal,..."
         Antony & Cleopatra, Act V sc.ii

"I try to make things which move in simple but interesting ways. Moving toys have always been made all over the world from wood, bamboo, clay, paper, string, wire, leaves, feathers and so on. These traditional toys have been a strong influence on my work, and I have travelled in Indonesia, Mexico, India and Japan in search of them. There are many pressures leading to their disappearance today, but they are still to be found in many parts of the world, sold on the street or appearing for fairs and festivals.

At their best they achieve a vigorous imagery and make ingenious use of really simple mechanisms. The makers of these toys have also been constantly inventive in their use of materials: They have cleverly exploited the properties of whatever natural, re-used and recycled materials were readily available to them. I try to do the same and at present particularly like using driftwood because collecting it gives me a good excuse for going to the seaside."

Robert Race

1943 Born
1965 Graduated from the University of Cambridge (in Natural Sciences).
1966/67 U. of London, Sch. of Education : Postgrad. Certificate in Education
1967 Taught Science in Secondary Schools
1970 Warden of Trowbridge Teachers' Centre.
1974 Diploma in Education, University of Bristol
1978 Became a full time toymaker. As a craftsman he is self-taught.


Best Newcomer Shield , 1991
The BTG Cup 1991, 1992, 1998
The Malsbury Memorial Cup (for automata and kinetic toys) 1995, 1996, 1997, 2000
Toymaker of the Year 1999
The Longleat Cup 2001
Chairman of the Guild 2003 to 2006.
Grand Prize in the Fifth Hikimi Wooden Puzzle Competition, Japan, 1992.


Black Swan Arts, Frome, Somerset
Salisbury Playhouse, Wiltshire
Victoria Art Gallery, Bath
Dorset County Hospital, Dorchester


Peppé, Rodney Automata and Mechanical Toys
The Crowood Press, Ramsbury 2002 ISBN 1-86126-510-7

Exempla 2002 - Welt des Holzes
Bayerischer Handwerkstag e. V., Muenchen 2002 ISBN 3-933363-13-6

Work in public collections

Museum of Childhood, Bethnal Green, London
Japan Museum of Contemporary Toy, Okayama, Japan
Arima Toys and Automata Museum, Hyogo, Japan.

Exhibitions in the last ten years have included (One man shows in bold type)

2003 Christmas Show, Medici Gallery, London
Crafts Council shop at the V&A, London
"Living Workshop" at Heim und Handwerk in München
2004 Happy Times & the Seaside Machine Ale & Porter, Bradford on Avon
2005 The Art of Craft Medici Gallery, London
Making Friends craft2eu, Hamburg
Expo 2005 Aichi, Japan invited guest at the "World Karakuri Contest"
2006 Signals from the Shore Black Swan Arts, Frome
Mechanical Magic 20-21 Visual Arts Centre, Scunthorpe
Fish and Ships craft2eu, Hamburg
Toys at the gallery@oxo, London (British Toymakers Guild)
Künstlerisches Spielzeug, Galerie Handwerk, Munich
Made Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Bretton Hall Yorkshire
2007 A Piece of the Action Bridport Arts Centre, Bridport,Dorset
2008 Künstlerisches Spielzeug? Galerie Handwerk, Munich Secrets & Surprises craft2eu, Hamburg
2009 Künstlerisches Spielzeug? Galerie Handwerk, Munich Show Time, craft2eu, Hamburg
Bring on Summer Black Swan Arts, Frome
Affordable Art Fair, Bristol (with White Space Art, Totnes)
Les méchaniques du bonheur Automates Galerie, Brussels
2010 Künstlerisches Spielzeug? Galerie Handwerk, Munich
Exposition Terra Viva, St Quentin-La-Poterie,France
The Mechanical World of Robert Race, New Brewery Arts, Cirencester
Tall Stories Devon Guild of Craftsmen, Bovey Tracey
Still Moving The First Gallery, Southampton
Affordable Art Fair, Battersea (with White Space Art, Totnes)
2011 ` Toymakers@oxo, South Bank, London
Künstlerisches Spielzeug? Galerie Handwerk, Munich
Bird Show craft2eu, Hamburg, Germany
Life's A Beach The Craft Centre, Leeds
Affordable Art Fair, Battersea (with White Space Art, Totnes)
Affordable Art Fair, Bruxelles
2012 Exposition Terra Viva, St Quentin-La-Poterie,France
Robert Race Automata, Victoria Art Gallery, Bath
Sommerspiele, Handwerksform, Hannover, Germany
craft2eu, Hamburg, Germany
Affordable Art Fair, Battersea (with White Space Art, Totnes)

Seit 1991 ist Robert Race ein aktives Mitglied der British Toymakers Guild