John Hurford was born on a farm in North Devon where he still lives. He grew up helping on the farm and was fascinated by all the creatures, flowers and trees he saw around him. He collected bones, skulls, dead animals, seed pods, owl and buzzard pellets to find out what was inside. He sketched all that he saw and when still in primary school won a competition in the "Farmers Weekly" when he made a book following the life of a chicken from egg to adult. When he reached secondary school age he went to a local grammar school where he was a boarder but learnt Latin and maths forsaking art in the process. He left school to work on the farm immediately on reaching sixteen and continued to draw and paint at home. He has never had formal training in art, preferring to find his own way with techniques and media. In the late sixties there was a proliferation of "counter culture" magazines and newspapers and he submitted work to them. He was published by OZ, International Times, Gandalfs Garden, Nasty Tales, It's all lies and Voices. This led eventually to writing and illustrating books. He painted in the evenings while working on the farm. He continued to work on the farm, eventually sharing it with his brother but spent all his spare time painting. In 2001 he decided to paint full time.
In 2004 he was approached by a local publisher who was keen to produce a book of his life and work. It was all painstakingly put together and edited by Jonathan Hill of Sunrise press and finished and published in 2006.
He has had many joint and solo exhibitions locally and nationally and has been made an honorary member of the South West Academy and a member of the Society of Graphic Fine Arts. His work has been reproduced in many magazines and books since the nineteen sixties and his early work is in the collection of the V&A museum. He has been shown in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, The Whitney in New York and The Tate Gallery in Liverpool.
He has had many books published, has had many exhibitions locally and in New Zealand, France and London. He still designs posters and record covers but mostly is concerned with painting - usually in acrylic on canvas, paper or wood panel.
In June and July 2019 he went to Peninsular Malaysia with Dr Ivan Tacey from the University of Exeter to live with the Batek (an indigenous tribe) and is now producing paintings, childrens books and books of photographs resulting from this experience