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Julian Trevelyan: The Artist and his World

[ Exhibition )

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A painting by Julian Trevelyan depicting the head and shoulders of a man with wide blue and pink eyes

Julian Trevelyan, Self-portrait (1940) © National Portrait Gallery / The Julian Trevelyan Estate

Discover the unique vision of Julian Trevelyan

Surrealist, traveller and painter of everyday life.

A founding member of the British Surrealist Group, Julian Trevelyan (1910–1988) was at the centre of a defining moment in British 20th century art.  He was an original participant of the Mass Observation project and embraced a wide variety of styles from surrealism to realism and abstraction.

So why is he not better known?

Through over 100 paintings and prints this exhibition reaffirms Trevelyan’s significant contribution to British art. It celebrates his distinctive visual language which reflects an enduring appetite for experimentation.

The first comprehensive retrospective of the artist in over 20 years, the exhibition marks the 30th anniversary of the artist’s death and is co-curated by James Scott and Ariane Bankes.

Exhibition catalogue

Find out more about Julian Trevelyan and his work in our accompanying exhibition catalogue, available from Pallant Bookshop.

Buy the catalogue

An essential guide to the life and work of Julian Trevelyan, published to accompany the exhibition. With over 90 illustrations of works from the exhibition and new writing from the curators, this lively handbook also republishes excerpts by the artist, includes an illustrated chronology of his life as well as recollections from those who knew him, including Mel Gooding, Norman Ackroyd and his son Philip Trevelyan.

Let us gladly shout: to dream is to CREATE.

Julian Trevelyan

After contributing to Britain’s first Surrealist statement, Trevelyan abandoned Cambridge for Paris in 1931 where he worked in Stanley William Hayter’s printmaking studio with Alberto Giacometti, André Masson, Pablo Picasso and Joan Miró. His early work was influenced by these artists as well as Max Ernst and Paul Klee, but he went on to develop his own unique style.

As one of the first participants of Mass Observation, which to this day depicts everyday life in Britain, Trevelyan spent a month in Bolton’s industrial streets, painting and creating collages from his suitcase full of materials. During this time he became interested in ‘Sunday painters’ and championed the self-taught group of Ashington Miners, known today as the ‘Pitmen Painters’.

A keen traveller, Trevelyan’s adventures took him abroad to North Africa with the Industrial Camouflage Unit and to the Mediterranean with his second wife, the celebrated painter Mary Fedden. From 1956 he was Head of Printmaking at the Royal College of Art where he shared his love of the process with students including David Hockney, R.B Kitaj and Norman Ackroyd. His home and workplace for over 30 years was at the Durham Wharf studios on the banks of the River Thames at Hammersmith, now under development by Turner Prize winning architecture studio Assemble.

Discover the work of Julian Trevelyan

A painting by Julian Trevelyan showing houses and warehouses alongside a river. A woman water a small bed of flowers outside one house with a watering can.

Durham Wharf (1940/43)

Private Collection © The Julian Trevelyan Estate

A painting by Julian Trevelyan depicting the head and shoulders of a man with wide blue and pink eyes

Self-portrait (1940)

Julian Trevelyan, Self-portrait (1940) © National Portrait Gallery / The Julian Trevelyan Estate

An etching by Julian Trevelyan of a birds eye of simple white boats floating on a black river.

Henley Regatta (1978)

Private Collection © The Julian Trevelyan Estate

A collage by Julian Trevelyan made from newspaper cuttings and coloured card to depict an industrial town with factories and chimneys

Bolton Mills (1938)

© Bolton Council. From the Collection of Bolton Library and Museum Services / The Julian Trevelyan Estate

A painting by Julian Trevelyan depicting a cubist-type figure holding a red heart

Standing Figure with Ace of Clubs (1933)

Photograph Mike Fear, courtesy Jerwood Collection © The Julian Trevelyan Estate

A painting by Julian Trevelyan depicting three women in brightly coloured skirts washing in a deep blue pool, surrounded by other clothes drying on nearby rocks

Washing Day, Freetown (1942)

Private collection © The Julian Trevelyan Estate

A painting by Julian Trevelyan of an industrial scnees of red brick houses and a factory . A number of shadowy figures wearing flat caps walk away from the factory.

The Potteries (1938)

Swindon Museum © The Julian Trevelyan Estate

A painting by Julian Trevelyan showing a group of men standing on a dock next to a fisherwoman and black cat with a paddles teamer with a yellow chimney in the background

Paddle Steamer (1986)

Private Collection © The Julian Trevelyan Estate

A painting by Julian Trevelyan showing two standing men and one seated women amongst a herd of goats under a yellow sky.

Self-Portrait with Mary (1960)

Tate © Tate, London 2018 / The Julian Trevelyan Estate

A painting by Julian Trevelyan depicting streets running paralelle to each other. The houses are painted red with turquoise roofs.

Burslem (1938)

Private Collection © The Julian Trevelyan Estate

A magician for his time and generation

Katheleen Raine