Julian Trevelyan first became interested in art whilst studying at Cambridge University, where, as part of an intellectual circle with George Reavey and Humphrey Jennings, he was introduced to Surrealist concepts.
Jennings would go on to become a painter and filmmaker and together, Trevelyan and Jennings became members of the ‘Experiments’ Group’. The group looked towards French developments, in particular, the work of André Masson.
Trevelyan’s work took on a variety of styles, from figurative realism to surrealism. He once wrote, ‘The dream is to create,’ and his pictures always retained this quality.
In 1931 he studied printmaking at Samuel Hayter’s atelier in Paris. Upon his return to London, he set up a studio in Hammersmith.
In 1932, he exhibited at the Bloomsbury Gallery and at other galleries, including Lefevre, Zwemmer and the Tate. More importantly, Trevelyan's work was shown in the first and most important 'International Surrealist Exhibition' in 1936 at the New Burlington Galleries in London, cementing his position as a founder member of the British Surrealist Group.
His painting gradually shifted away from its Surrealist roots as he developed an increasing unique and naive style. He resigned from the group in 1938 and became involved with the Government 'Mass Observation' project when he produced some of his most striking and poignant works. After war service as a camouflage artist Trevelyan found his own personal peace when he settled at Durham Wharf on the Thames near Hammersmith. This location became central to his work and provided him with an ever changing source of inspiration.
His paintings are now in many collections such as the Tate Gallery and the MOMA, New York.