Neil Shawcross (b.1940)

Solly Lipsitz (1968)


90cm x 90cm

National Museums Northern Ireland ACNI Collection

Born in Lancashire in 1940, Shawcross entered a junior Art School in Bolton in 1953 at the age of thirteen. He continued his studies at Bolton College of Art (1955-1958) until he was eighteen. Since Bolton did not offer a specialist painting program he finished his studies at Lancaster College of Art in 1960.

Shawcross works out of the painterly tradition, set and developed by artists at the beginning of the 20th century. There are influences of Matisse, Bonnard and Duffy in his work. Another important source of influence on his practice, was children’s drawing as well as an interest in the theatre.

In 1962 Shawcross came to Belfast as a lecturer at the Belfast College of Art. In 1969 he exhibited at the Royal Ulster Academy for the first time, and in 1975 won the Academy’s Conor Award. He then proceeded to win the Academy’s Gold Medal no fewer than five times, between 1978 and 1997. He was made an academician in 1978, and an associate member of Royal Hibernian Academy in 2002.

Shawcross is particularly admired for his portraits, which often appear ingenuous and child-like, despite the artist’s rigorous training. Major commissions include portraits of fellow artist Colin Middleton, novelist Frances Stuart (now in the Ulster Museum), and Alderman David Cook for the Lord Mayor’s Gallery at the Belfast City Hall. He also paints figures and still life, taking a self-consciously childlike approach to composition and colour. His work also includes printmaking, and he has designed stained glass for the Ulster Museum and St. Colman’s Church, Lambeg, County Antrim.

Shawcross has exhibited nationally, with solo exhibitions in London, Manchester, Dublin and Belfast, and internationally in Hong Kong and the United States. His work is also found in many private and corporate collections.

This piece from 1968 depicts the artist’s former colleague Solly Lipsitz, a music lecturer at the Belfast College of Art who is remembered for his unique teaching style and as owner of Belfast’s Atlantic Records.