New Greens Pizzeria to feature Neil Shawcross Penguin Exhibition

Celebrated Belfast-based artist Neil Shawcross will unveil a colourful new range of canvasses for the new Greens Pizza restaurant at Ballyhackamore later this month.

A total of twelve original paintings of famous Penguin Book covers will line the walls of the 50 seat restaurant.

Art plays a big part in the lives of owners Manus McConn and William Clark, who also own Green Pizzeria on the Lisburn Road and Conor Cafe on the Stranmillis Road.

They have known Neil Shawcross for many years and have displayed dozens of his works at their two restaurants. They are looking forward to seeing the new work at their Ballyhackamore restaurant.

The Penguin series will complement the seven paintings– including some of Penguin’s most famous titles that currently grace the walls of Greens’ sister restaurant, Conor Cafe. Shawcross painted them to commemorate Penguin’s 75th anniversary in 2011.

Mr Shawcross said: “The new paintings are a continuation of my interest in Penguin Books. They are on a smaller scale than the Conor paintings but they are just right for the new restaurant.”

Co-owner Manus McConn has known the artist for many years and has displayed dozens of his works at Conor, which is situated on the Stranmillis Road opposite the Ulster Museum, and his other restaurant, Greens Pizzeria on the Lisburn Road.

Mr McConn said: “There is always an excitement about a new display of Neil’s work. I am sure the public will love these latest images of Penguin books in our new restaurant.”

The Conor Cafebuilding has a rich artistic heritage, explained William Clark: “Conor Cafe was originally the studio of the artist William Conor and we feel it adds to the atmosphere in the cafe to feature these iconic paintings by Neil Shawcross.”

The book-loving artist, who owns hundreds of titles from the Penguin publishing house, believes that the design created for their mass produced paperbacks is one of the most iconic of the 20thcentury.

“I have been working on the original image of penguin books for more than 20 years. It is one of the classic icons of 20th century design. It has two elements that are very significant in the way I paint – colour and line. There is a beautiful symmetry about this design, which I really love.”

Shawcross’s Penguin books are reminiscent of the brand-led imagery of pop art works such as Andy Warhol’s famous Campbell Soup cans.

“Everything I do is an emotional or gut response rather than cerebral. I have a twin brother, Tony, who also went to art college, but while I went on to study painting he went into graphic design. There could be a sub conscious link which explains my love of design.”

The hard-working artist says his studio resembles a grocer’s shop: “I just love walking around supermarkets and looking at the packaging. Even if I don’t use the product, I often buy them for their designs and colour.”

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