GMMG - Greater Manchester Museums Group

GMMG - Greater Manchester Museums Group Show menu
Back Show search
Back

Bolton Terraces

Humphrey Jennings
circa 1937 - 1950

This painting was painted as part of the Mass Observation project.

Mass-Observation was a large-scale investigation into the habits and customs of the people of Britain that was started in Bolton in 1937. Bolton was named “Worktown” by Tom Harrisson.

The project focused on Bolton initially and during the Second World War was enlisted by the Government to monitor public morale in the population as a whole. The project still exists today and the archive is currently held at the University of Sussex.

The founders of Mass-Observation were: Tom Harrisson, an anthropologist who had made a name for himself studying cannibals in the New Hebrides; Charles Madge, at the time a promising poet and a member of a London based artists movement called the Blackheath group; Humphrey Jennings, an artist, poet, historian, translator and film-maker. Also a member of the Blackheath group. Jennings became widely known for the influential war documentaries he made after he left the Mass-Observation.

Jennings came from a very privilaged background. The differences between the lives of people in Bolton and his own shocked him and went on to influnce most of his future work.