Works by Artist Embedded with the British Army in Afghanistan Exhibited at Bonhams

. May 4, 2011 . 0 Comments

In February 2010 the Suffolk-based artist, Jules George, was sponsored by the Ministry of Defence to visit Afghanistan as an officially sanctioned war artist embedded with 2 Yorks (Green Howards), part of the 11th Light Brigade.

The results of his time in Afghanistan with the British Army will be exhibited at Bonhams from Friday July 22nd to August 5th. Viewing times will be from 10am to 4pm Monday to Friday (no weekend viewing).

The works range in price from £180 to several thousand. The artist has pledged to donate a percentage of all sales to the charity Combat Stress, Britain’s leading charity which specialises in the mental health care of ex-service men and women. Bonhams will match this contribution.

Sketching on the move and under fire was stressful and required a quick learning curve, George says. The experience has suited the raw energy evident in his signature documentary style which has taken him around the world. His exhibition promises to attract a wide variety of interest.

George comments: “Any preconceptions I had before going to Afghanistan were based entirely on what I had seen in the newspapers and on television. But the reality was completely different. The stunning beauty of the landscape and medieval Afghan life, overcast, by the deathly shadow of war. Constantly you’re pulled between the two: the contrast is simply incredible.”

“My work tried to convey the experience of what it is like to be on the frontline, the elements of fear and energy, the camaraderie and the determination of the troops. Because for every setback, for every friend injured, that makes them more determined to succeed. I have huge respect for these men and women.”

Arriving in Kandahar, George was based in Shorabak, the main Afghan National Army camp adjacent to Camp Bastion, the British military base there. He visited military posts (FOB Shawqat and PB Chillie) in the Nad-e-Ali district, close to where British and Afghan soldiers launched Operation Moshtarak, described as the largest offensive in Afghanistan since 2001 and aimed at routing Taleban militants who’d taken control of the area.

While in Helmand, he went out on foot patrol, facing the challenge of walking, watching his step for improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and drawing at the same time. On a subsequent patrol, George accompanied the Household Cavalry Regiment north to Musa Qaleh and to an outlying military post (PB Talibjan). It was there where he was caught up in a fire fight with Taleban militants, who had laid IEDs for the patrol. One of them just missed the vehicle he was travelling in but two other vehicles were hit. On this occasion there were no serious casualties.

During his time the artist filled five sketchbooks, painting and drawing whatever he saw and experienced. He says: “It was a huge challenge trying to produce art in such conditions but one that served as a lesson to sharpen my skills.”

He has spent the last year creating a body of paintings, based on his original drawings, to convey his vivid experiences in Helmand with the British Army. A showcase of his war drawings and studies have been included as ‘Contemporary Interventions’, to coincide with the reopening of the refurbished Burton Gallery in York Art Gallery throughout 2011.

(About the artist)
Jules George has been a professional artist since leaving Staffordshire University in 1992. He completed his Masters at Edinburgh College of Art in 1998. His painting is complimented by the use of printmaking, which he has produced since training in Edinburgh under ‘Master Printer’ Alfons Bytautasin the early nineties.

He has exhibited in a number of one-man and group shows in Britain and abroad. Highlights include the prominent exhibition ‘It’s No Palm Beach’, shown at The City Arts Centre, Edinburgh 2004/05 and his exhibition ‘Promenade’, shown at the Peter Piers Gallery, Aldeburgh in 2008. His work has been commissioned and collected by individuals and organisations, including Edinburgh City Council, Southampton University, Ove Arup & Partners, Laing O’Rourke and Bonhams.

George has for many years painted portraits, notably exhibiting a portrait of the explorer Benedict Allen at the Royal Society of Portrait Painters at the Mall Galleries, London in 2003 and the actor Ewen Bremner at the Garrick Milne Prize, Christies, London in 2005.

George specialises in documentary style art (reportage) and has travelled widely to gather source material. He has travelled to the West Indies, Southern Africa and undertaken a series of trips through India, Sri Lanka and Thailand. The energy and mood conveyed in his on-location studies forms the basis to his painting and printmaking projects. They have resulted in a range of unique subject matter, from the African diaspora, impressions of the auction world, an exploration of Suffolk landscape and the study of a Thai-Burmese border crossing.

Category: Exhibition News

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