George Butler is an award-winning artist and illustrator specialising in travel and current affairs. His drawings, done in situ are 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. Over the last ten years, his desire to record scenes in ink rather than with a camera has meant he has witnessed some extraordinary moments; refugee camps in Bekaa Valley, in the oil fields in Azerbaijan, in Gaza with Oxfam, in Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Myanmar, in a neo-Nazi murder trial in Munich, on an oil rig in the north sea, down a Ghanian gold mine…the list goes on.
“The skill is to use drawing as an interview technique for an entire situation, making notes of a period of time. It isn’t all about conflict… the drawings are of more common experiences than those on our front pages, they are of unfolding scenes, of habits, of stories, or of a single character”, he says.
His drawings have been published by The Times (London), Monocle, New York Times, The Guardian, BBC, CNN, Der Spiegel, ARD television Germany, NPR. His work has been shown in the Imperial War Museum North and the V&A Museum which also holds some of his work in the National Archive.
In 2014, with three friends, George set up the Hands Up Foundation. The aim was to remind the people they had met in Syria that they had not been forgotten. The Hands Up Foundation supports salaries of professionals inside Syria and has to date raised £5million.