Land of My Father • David Hurn • Magnum Photos

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Land of my Father

Photographer David Hurn's carefully observed photographs reveal both the traditional and the modern sides of the shifting landscape of his homeland Wales over the past 50 years

David Hurn

David Hurn Coach party from the valleys on holiday during the fortnight close down of the pits. Aberavon beach, Wales, UK. 1971. © David Hurn | Magnum Photos
David Hurn The military artillery range. Sheep shelter from the rain. Mynydd Epynt, Wales, UK. 1973. © David Hurn | Magnum Photos
David Hurn Brynmill. Drug addiction. Wales, UK. 1972. © David Hurn | Magnum Photos
David Hurn Students at the Arts Ball of Gwent College of Higher Education. The Ball was held on a boat that did a round trip from Newport into the Bristol Channel. Wales, UK. 1985. © David Hurn | Magnum Photos
David Hurn Bargoed. Junior Wales ballroom dancing championships. Wales, UK. 1973 © David Hurn | Magnum Photos
David Hurn A large farming family pose as one of the junior members take their photograph under the guidance of the photographer Sue Packer. The family get together at least once a year for a party. Castleton (...)
David Hurn The annual Miss Sunny Rhyl beauty contest. Rhyl, Wales, UK. 1972. © David Hurn | Magnum Photos
David Hurn General scene of people, shoppers on the streets of the Welsh capital. Wales, Cardiff, UK. 1982. © David Hurn | Magnum Photos
David Hurn Bus stop for the Big Tip: National Coal Museum. Blaenafon, Wales. 1997. © David Hurn | Magnum Photos
David Hurn Upper Chapel. Local tent Eisteddfod. Wales, UK. 1973. © David Hurn | Magnum Photos
David Hurn Working in Shotton Steel Works during its last days before closing. The last pouring. Shotton, Wales. 1977. © David Hurn | Magnum Photos
David Hurn Farmers at the Llanybyther Horse Sales. Wales, UK. 1976.© David Hurn / Magnum PhotosNo photograph or digital file may be reproduced, cropped or modified (digitally or otherwise), and the spir (...)
David Hurn Spectators at an Old Boys' rugby match, Rhondda Valley. Beer seems an essential part of the whole macho experience. Rhondda Valley, Wales, UK. 1974. © David Hurn | Magnum Photos
David Hurn Tenby. The promenade at the elegant seaside town of Tenby, South Wales. Wales, UK. 1974. © David Hurn | Magnum Photos
David Hurn Upper Chapel. The high jump at the children's sports day at Upper Chapel in Mid Wales. Wales, UK. 1976. © David Hurn | Magnum Photos
David Hurn Cross Country Welsh Championships, Bridgend. Wales, UK.1979. © David Hurn | Magnum Photos
David Hurn Head of the Rhondda Valley (A4061), Wales, UK. 1995. © David Hurn | Magnum Photos

In the last two decades of the 20th century, Wales experienced a remarkable transformation reflecting the dramatic cultural changes that have taken place throughout the world. From a country with an economy, culture, and landscape dominated by agriculture and the heavy industries of coal, steel, and slate, Wales has become a place where the mines, mills, and quarries are closed – either for good or to be reinvented as mythical ‘heritage’ tourist attractions – and where the new industries are high-tech and computer-based. The power of big business has arrived in the form of fast food, film, television, and the internet, and there have been huge steps forward in issues such as feminism and the environment that affect everyday life for all Welsh people.

Photographer David Hurn has been studying the metamorphosis in Wales, the ‘land of his father’, over a period of twenty years. His carefully observed photographs reveal both the traditional and the modern sides of the country. The strength of Welsh culture and history is represented by images of mine-workers with their pit-ponies, day-trippers on the beach, sheepdog trials and horse fairs, brass bands, traditional singers, and the chapel. Alongside these are modern developments: Japanese factories producing microprocessors and computer products, hamburger stands, discos – even male strippers.

Every picture tells its own truth about life in Wales now and in the recent past, providing a distillation, in exquisite miniature, of the global change that is so inexorably a part of contemporary human experience.