Pulitzer Center grantee George Butler, a reporting illustrator, has captured the impact on everyday life in Afghanistan in the draw down of western troops, who have been present in the country since 2001. His artworks, drawn live as events happened, offer a compelling insight into life away from foreign television cameras, in between the stories that make news headlines.
WithDraw, Butler's collection of drawings will be unveiled for the first time at Imperial War Museum North in an exhibition running from February 21 through September 6.
Butler is an artist and illustrator specializing in travel and current affairs. His drawings, done in situ are in pen, ink and watercolor. Eight years ago, Butler accompanied Britain's 16th Air Assault Brigade for two weeks in Afghanistan. Twenty-two at the time, he was fascinated by a country steeped in history and covered in life. But his view was through an armored car window or over the wall of an army camp fence. To satisfy his curiosity about what life is really like in Afghanistan, he recently returned with his artist's tools.
Before illustrating for his project in Afghanistan, Butler walked from Turkey across the border into Syria, where as an unofficial guest of the rebel Free Syrian Army he spent four days drawing the war-damaged town of Azaz. Six months later, he made a similar trip back to Syria to record the stories among the refugees. In March 2014, he was commissioned by Doctors of the World to record the living conditions of the Syrian refugees in the Bekaa valley in Lebanon.
He has won the Editorial and Overall award for illustration at the V&A Illustration Awards and an International Media Award in May 2013. His work has been exhibited in The Times Watercolor Competition in 2012 and again in 2014, the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolors exhibition at the Mall Galleries, 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2013 where he won the June Stokes Roberts Bursary and the Winsor and Newton Young Artist’s Award.
IWM’s collections cover all aspects of 20th and 21st century conflict involving Britain, the Commonwealth and other former empire countries.
February 21-September 6
Imperial Warm Museum North
Trafford Wharf Road
Manchester M17 1TZ