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Trevelyan was a friend of Humphrey Jennings whilst at Trinity College, Cambridge. Trevelyan decided to leave before completing his course and moved to Paris where he took up art, studying alongside Picasso and Max Ernst.
For many of the volunteer observers who came to Bolton during breaks from study at Oxford and Cambridge the journey represented a chance to tell the "truth" about everyday life for everyday people.
This was intended to contrast with the portrayal of Britain shown in the media of the time which appeared contrived, at least from the Mass-Observation point of view.
For Trevelyan the project had particular resonance. Depressed by the rise of Fascism at the time he was heartened by the fact that the British working-class appeared to want to hold on to aspects of cultural life that seemed to have been abandoned in other parts of Europe.
Whilst in Bolton he created art works and photography. Of all the artists involved in the Mass-Observation Trevelyan's work was the most successful in chiming with the ideals of the project.
His most popular piece from the time was a collage depicting an industrial landscape constructed using bits of newspaper, seed catalogues and magazines. Tom Harrisson was particularly struck by Trevelyan's work as he felt that his methods could easily be adopted as popular art forms.
Tom Harrisson was inspired by Trevelyans artistic contributions in particular as he felt that his methods could easily transfer to popular art forms