Painting a picture of war-torn Afghanistan

by - 18th April 2012, 14.18 BST

An exhibition of stunning photographs documenting the lives of ordinary Afghan people is showing in Cardiff until April 24th.

The pictures are by photojournalist and NUJ activist Guy Smallman who has made numerous trips to Afghanistan since his first visit in 2008.

The photo on the right was taken in the workplace of Khan Engineering and Company, which melts down Russian tanks and turns them into manhole covers.

During that time he has worked outside of the NATO-embed structures to document the lives of ordinary Afghan people as they struggle to survive in a war torn poverty-stricken country.

His work has concentrated mainly on social issues like the problems caused by mass unemployment and opium production. He is also the only Western journalist to have visited the scene of the Granaia massacre in Farah province where more than 100 civilians died in a NATO bombing raid in 2009.

This collection of images come from many different subject areas but are linked by a common thread: ignoring the politicians and military to focus on ordinary people.

Guy Smallman looks at the lives of some of the 1.5 million Afghan refugees displaced by war or left destitute by being unable to find work. His images of the explosion in heroin addiction are bleak but also look at the hope given to addicts by the Afghan doctors with a remarkable success rate for turning their patients lives around.

Meanwhile his pictures of unemployed men waiting for work juxtaposed with Kabul’s disused factory spaces need little explanation.

* The exhibition runs until April 24th at Cardiff Central Library, The Hayes, Cardiff CF10 1FL. Opening hours are 9am – 6pm on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, 9am – 7pm on Thursday and 9am – 5.30pm on Saturday.

Any trade union branches interested in hosting it in their town or city can contact Guy at :