Julian Trevelyan’s Suitcase

Artist Julian Trevelyan was part of the team of Mass-Observers in Bolton. Tom Harrisson, leader of the Worktown survey at the time, asked him and other artists to paint and draw in the streets of the town. Trevelyan was inspired by Surrealism at the time and used collage to record the street scenes in the melting pot spirit of Mass-Observation. He talks about his artistic process in his autobiography, Indigo Days:-
‘I cruised round and settled on the outskirts of town near to some cotton mills and reservoirs. At the time I was making collages; I carried a large suit-case full of newspapers, copies of Picture Post, seed catalogues, old bills, old bills and other scraps, together with a pair of scissors, a pot of gum, and a bottle of indian ink. I was applying the collage techniques I had learnt from the Surrealists to the thing seen, and I now tore up pictures of the Coronation crowds to make the cobblestones of Bolton. It was awkward, sometimes, in a wind, when my little pieces would fly about, and I was shy of being watched at it; but it was a legitimate way, I think, of inviting the god of Chance to lend a hand in painting my picture.’

The collage described is titled ‘Rubbish may be shot here.’ and is held in the Tate’s collection. Bolton Museum hold other Worktown collages, watercolours and photographs made by Trevelyan in Bolton. But remarkably the ‘collage suit-case’ has also survived the years, and is still owned by Julian’s son, Philip Trevelyan, who has kindly supplied these photographs of it. Bolton Musuem is hoping to be able to display the suitcase at the 75th anniversary Worktown exhibition opening at the end of September.

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