Afghan Girl in UK exclusive exhibition

By on 17/06/2010 in Culture, News

One of the most well known photographs in the world - The Afghan Girl by Steve McCurry, will be included in a UK exclusive of the celebrated photojournalist's work at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery's Waterhall from 26 June - 17 October.  Admission Free.

The photo, which was taken at the Nasir Bagh refugee camp, first appeared on the front cover of National Geographic in June 1985 and has since been named “the most recognized photograph” in the history of the magazine.

The image quickly became a symbol both of the 1980s Afghan conflict and of the refugee situation worldwide and has also been widely used on Amnesty International brochures, posters, and calendars. 

The photograph is included in 'Steve McCurry - Retrospective' an exhibition organised in association with the Magnum Photos, covering over 30 years of the Award winning American photojournalist's career. 

The image was taken when, disguised in native clothing, McCurry crossed the Pakistan border into rebel - controlled Afghanistan just before the Russian invasion. 

The identity of the “Afghan Girl” remained unknown for over 15 years until McCurry and a National Geographic team located the woman, Sharbat Gula, in 2002.  When he finally located her, he said, her skin was weathered: there are wrinkles now, but she is as striking as she was all those years ago. 

Steve McCurry's work captures the essence of human struggle and joy.

He has covered many areas of international and civil conflicts, including the Iran -Iraq war, the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia, Beirut, Cambodia, the Philippines, the Gulf War, and continuing coverage in Afghanistan.  He also photographed Ground Zero in New York on September 11.

His work has been featured in every major magazine in the world and frequently appears in National Geographic magazine with recent articles on the Hazaras of Afghanistan, Buddhism, Tibet, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen and the temples of Angkor Wat, Cambodia.  He has an uncanny ability to cross boundaries of language and culture to capture the human experience. 

He has won numerous awards; his work in Afghanistan won the Robert Capa Gold Medal for Best Photographic Reporting from Abroad, an award dedicated to photographers exhibiting exceptional courage and enterprise.

He's the recipient of numerous awards including Magazine Photographer of the Year, awarded by the National Press Photographers Association.  That was the same year that he twice won the Olivier Rebbott Memorial Award.

A year after the Afghan Girl image appeared on the front cover of National Geographic, McCurry became a full member of the international photographic agency, Magnum Photos. 

Founded in 1947, Magnum photographers chronicle the world and interpret its peoples, events, issues and personalities. Through its four editorial offices in New York, London, Paris and Tokyo, and a network of fifteen sub-agents, Magnum Photos provides photographs to the press, publishers, advertising, television, galleries and museums across the world.

Councillor Martin Mullaney, Cabinet Member for Leisure, Sport and Culture at Birmingham City Council said:  'I am delighted that Birmingham's world class Museum and Art Gallery is holding the UK exclusive of this retrospective of Steve McCurry's stunning photojournalism. 

“As we bid for UK City of Culture 2013, it is further evidence of the city's reputation for attracting high profile exhibitions that will attract both local and national visitors.'

Steve McCurry - Retrospective is A Magnum Photos touring exhibition.

For further details on Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery please visit or call 0121 303 2834


Media contact: Jason Lewis on 0121 303 4266

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  1. Andy Mabbett says:

    Here’s some background on the “Afghan Girl” picture: