After a two-decade long love affair with US subject matter, photographer and filmmaker Jane Hilton stumbled upon the inspiration for her latest work during one of her many road trips across the western states of America. The title of her book and exhibition, Dead Eagle Trail, refers to her discovery of a dead Golden Eagle in the middle of the road in Nevada. The experience inspired her to document and explore one of the most iconic, romantic archetypes of American culture and history, the cowboy and his way of life.
Dead Eagle Trail marks Hilton’s empathetic portrayal of the cowboy of the twenty-first century. Unlike previous expositions of the American West, Hilton’s subjects are photographed within their own personal environments, surrounded by their collections of artifacts and memorabilia.
During her four and a half year study, an assignment introduced her to a handsome young cowboy called Jeremiah who travelled from Alaska to New Mexico, funding his adventure by breaking in wild horses and taking on stints on ranches. The allure of the Wild West took Hilton to the cowboy states of America where she has documented the lives of many other subjects, capturing their humility, dignity and strength of character.
As a reminder of simpler times without the technological trappings of modern life, Dead Eagle Trail celebrates the buckaroos of Nevada to the cowpunchers of Arizona and the question lingers, will there be cowboys 100 years from now?
The exhibition of Dead Eagle Trail runs from 21st April – 3rd June 2010 at Host Gallery, 1 Honduras Street, London, EC1Y 0TH. The book is available from 3rd May 2010.