Transforming the humdrum through the prism of an optimistic new kind of democratic realism, the project directives to observers were broad in scope, observing pub conversations, village life, gift giving and mantelpiece arrangements.

It's a way of seeing that is both intimate and privileged, revealing the unexpected in the familiar.

"We were called spies, priers, mass-eavesdroppers, nosey parkers, peeping-toms, lopers, snoopers, envelope-steamers, keyhole artists, sex maniacs, sissies and society playboys" (Humphrey Spender, one of the key figures in the Mass Observation project).

Redeye, Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art, Market Buildings, Thomas St, Manchester M4 1EU, UK
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