Portraits of conflict and courage - RSA

Portraits of conflict and courage

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“In Ukraine, I learnt that the stories of those I was trying to draw, were in fact, far more significant than my attempts at figurative likeness on the page. The drawings became an introduction to something and someone more meaningful that we would have otherwise never known”.

George Butler is an award-winning illustrator who has reinvented the role of the Artist Reporter, drawing conflict zones, climate issues, humanitarian crisis, and social issues for the news.  His drawings are done in situ - in pen, ink, and watercolour.

Over the last 15 years, George has been commissioned to offer a deliberately slow alternative to the headlines.  He attaches his drawings to the personal testimonies of those that he meets and records their resolve and resilience alongside the vulnerability of their situations. This has included in a leprosy clinic in Nepal, a militia in Yemen, the mass graves in Bucha, a caesarean-section in Afghanistan, the oil fields of Myanmar and the aftermath of the earthquake in Turkey and Syria.  

At the RSA, George introduces his latest work Ukraine: Remember Also Me - a collection of vivid and powerful testimonies from the conflict in Ukraine. While reporting on the war, George created striking and intimate illustrations to introduce the people behind the headlines. His drawings, made in a variety of places - from people and animals in underground shelters in the Kharkiv metro, to hospitals and bombed out streets and homes - vividly capture stories of family, tragedy, and perseverance.

These powerful portraits of war and conflict are a timely reminder of the humanity we all share and our universal need for peace.

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