In the late 1970s, Welsh photographer David Hurn was awarded a UK/USA Bicentennial Fellowship: a one-year prize to take photographs in America. He could have gone anywhere in that vast country but settled on Arizona. Thus began a love affair that lasted more than two decades and saw him included in Magnum Photos’ hallowed membership.
“At the time, Arizona was the most right-wing state in the US and Wales was probably the most left-wing part of the UK,” said Hurn. “Also, it’s the driest state while Wales is famously wet. Arizona just seemed such an extraordinary contrast.”
Hurn had made his name producing on-the-ground images from the Hungarian Revolution, after hitchhiking to Budapest in 1956. He later went on to capture intimate, unstaged shots of the Beatles, from the depths of the crowds and in rehearsal. In America, Hurn remained fixed on everyday life, from cheerleading to wild-horse wrangling, Dolly Parton lookalike competitions to fraternity dances, all made exotic by his outsider’s perspective. Cultural historian Christopher Frayling described Hurn as a ‘visual essayist’.
Arizona Trips by David Hurn. RRP: $39.95 (£29.95) (Reel Art Press)
We’re also reading: botanical books
A painterly book detailing a naturalist’s summer-long search for the wildest flowers of the British Isles; a hymn to the homegrown exotic. RRP: £20 (Bloomsbury)
Florilegium: Botanical treasures from Cooks’ first voyage
See the botanical prints by Joseph Banks, who accompanied Cook on his 1768-1771 round-the-world trip. RRP: £65 (Thames & Hudson)
Shinrin-Yoku: The Art and Science of Forest Bathing by Dr Qing Li
Learn all about forest bathing, the Japanese practice of visiting forests for health benefits.
RRP: £12.99 (Penguin Life)
The Overstory by Richard Powers
An epic tale of trees and the human lives interwoven around them; a novel in 20 stories with roots that reach across America. RRP: £18.99 (Penguin)
Published in the April 2018 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)