Emergency in Afghanistan: Drawings from Helmand, Kabul and Panjshir

Emergency in Afghanistan
Drawings from Helmand, Kabul and Panjshir

A George Butler x EMERGENCY collaboration, on display at:

11 Dray Walk, Old Truman Brewery, London, E1 6QL

15 to 23 July

Opening Hours

Sat 15: 10am – 7pm
Sun 16: 10am – 7pm
Mon 17: 11am – 7pm
Tue 18: 11am – 5pm
Wed 19: 11am – 7pm
Thurs 20: 11am – 7pm
Fri 21: 11am – 7pm
Sat 22: 10am – 7pm
Sun 23: 10am – 4pm


There is step-free access to the lower level of the exhibition but not the upper level, where the majority of artwork will be displayed.

In September 2022, the award-winning reportage artist George Butler travelled to EMERGENCY’s hospitals and clinics across Afghanistan to illustrate the organisation’s life-saving work.

These drawings of EMERGENCY’s colleagues, hospital wards and patients are visceral, moving illustrations of the on-going situation in Afghanistan and a barometer of the difficulties faced by Afghans after decades of conflict.

Through pen, ink and watercolour, George has captured people in settings often overlooked by the narrative on Afghanistan, instead examining the tension between pain and recovery found in places dedicated to healing.

From operating theatres treating injuries caused by the explosive remnants of conflict, to maternity wards delivering a new generation, George’s drawings provide the viewer a glimpse of life in Afghanistan, in settings where life and death hang by a thread.

I felt immediately connected to the extraordinary work which is being done within these wards, and for these patients. The quality of care seemed out of place from the scenes we see on our frontpages; queues of people outside First Aid Posts, full OT lists, full beds. Double and triple shifts. I was welcomed by EMERGENCY into their work in Afghanistan, immersing myself within their medical projects, which are dealing with the aftermath of a 40-year war.

– George Butler

The exhibition is open to the public and free to attend.

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

In August 2012 George walked from Turkey across the border into Syria, where as a guest of the rebel Free Syrian Army, he drew the Civil War-damaged, small and empty town of Azaz.

A decade later he spent several days in the Metro in Kharkiv, Ukraine recording the lives of those that lived underground to avoid the Russian bombardment. These drawings can be seen in the National Archive at V&A Museum.

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. The subjects he has drawn have included a Leprosy Clinic in Nepal, a militia in Yemen, the mass graves in Bucha, the artisanal oil fields of Myanmar and most recently for the Guardian documenting the aftermath of the earthquake in Turkey and Syria.

His drawings have been published by The Times (London), Monocle, New York Times, the Guardian, SZ Magazin, VQR, BBC, CNN, Der Spiegel, ARD television and NPR. His work has been shown in the Imperial War Museum North, Lambeth Palace and is in collection at the V&A Museum and the National Army Museum.


EMERGENCY is an international organisation that provides free, high-quality care to people affected by conflict and poverty, building healthcare facilities, training local personnel, and conducting search and rescue missions in the Mediterranean Sea.

Founded in 1994, EMERGENCY has treated 12.5 million people in 20 different countries and currently operates in Afghanistan, Eritrea, Iraq, Italy, Sierra Leone, Sudan, and Uganda.

EMERGENCY has been providing medical care in Afghanistan since 1999 with two Surgical Centres in Kabul and Lashkar-Gah, a Surgical and Paediatric Centre and a Maternity Centre in Anabah, in the Panjshir Valley, and a network of over 40 First Aid Posts and Primary Healthcare Centres connecting 28 districts. It has treated more than 8.5 million people in Afghanistan.

Supported by