WithDraw – Imperial War Museum North, 21 February – 6 September 2015


New artworks exploring everyday life in Afghanistan

Depicting everyday life in Afghanistan, a new display of artworks by journalist and reportage illustrator George Butler will be unveiled for the first time at IWM North, part of Imperial War Museums, in Manchester.

Butler’s art works were drawn live in situ, in locations throughout Afghanistan, in the weeks following the draw back of the combat troops of the International Security Assistance Force, who have been present in the country since 2001.

The images were specially created for this small, powerful display. Butler’s previous work has appeared in news media outlets and exhibitions across the globe.

These new images offer an insight into what happens away from foreign television cameras, at quiet moments in between the events that make news headlines.

Butler’s reportage illustration offers a compelling insight into a country living with conflict, offering an alternative to photography and film media coverage.

More than 20 vivid pen and ink drawings created on the streets of Afghanistan reveal the impact of conflict on people, communities and society.

The political and security situation changed dramatically during Butler’s time there, with daily explosions in both civilian and military areas while, for many, day to day life on the streets and in homes continued almost as normal.

The images capture the bustle of lively street markets, the impact of daily explosions in major cities, life changing social projects and schools in remote rural locations.

The new artworks are on display alongside film and photography of Butler’s experiences in Afghanistan, revealing the artist at work while standing in dangerous urban locations and remote rural settlements.

IWM has been working with artists to create responses to conflict since the First World War. IWM North’s landmark building on The Quays in Manchester is itself an artistic response to conflict. Designed by world renowned architect Daniel Libeskind, based on the concept of a world shattered by conflict, the award winning building is a visionary symbol of the effects of war on people’s lives.

Also on display in IWM North’s Main Exhibition Space objects from IWM’s collections telling the stories of British soldiers who served in Afghanistan from 2003 to the present day.

Butler’s travel to Afghanistan was part-funded by a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

Image: Wheelchair basketball. Organized by the International Committee of the Red Cross’ prosthetic limb project, patients and workers play wheelchair basketball. Fast and rough, it is played by girls and boys and they now play internationally. They have recently applied for membership to the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation.


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