Newtownabbey artist unveils his Best work at City Airport

Local artist Paul Wilson, a lecturer at NRC Newtownabbey, at the unveiling of his new artwork at George Best Belfast City Airport with Brian Ambrose, CEO of the City Airport and Sammy Douglas MLA. INNT 30-506CON
Local artist Paul Wilson, a lecturer at NRC Newtownabbey, at the unveiling of his new artwork at George Best Belfast City Airport with Brian Ambrose, CEO of the City Airport and Sammy Douglas MLA. INNT 30-506CON

A portrait of football legend George Best painted by a Newtownabbey artist is proving popular with passengers at Belfast City Airport.

The artwork depicting the former Manchester United and Northern Ireland football star was unveiled recently at George Best Belfast City Airport by artist Paul Wilson.

The digital print on canvas - a copy of a piece Paul painted a few years ago - has been a big hit with passengers, with many stopping to have their picture taken with the artwork.

“People have been taking selfies with it and putting them on Facebook, so it’s already getting a bit of a following which is fantastic,” the 53-year-old told the Times.

A former Fine Art student at St Martin’s in London and the University of Ulster in Belfast, Paul has been an Art and Design lecturer at Northern Regional College in Newtownabbey for the past 15 years, working with BTEC students aged 16 - 19 and taking leisure classes for adult learners. He has also worked in Northern Ireland’s prisons for the Prison Art Foundation.

Paul, from Knockview, has several other works hanging in prominent public buildings such as The Waterfront and Belfast City Hall.

He came up with the idea for the George Best artwork in the airport several years ago, but only recently saw the project come to fruition.

“It came about through a conversation I had with George Best’s sister, Barbara a number of years ago. I had just heard that they had changed the name of the airport to ‘George Best Belfast City’ and I thought it would be great if they had an artwork inside, as well as having his name on the front of the building,” he explained. “I let it go for a while, but then I got in touch with Barbara and her husband, Norman and they thought it would be a great idea.

“I contacted the airport about 18 months ago with the idea and told them I would give the artwork to them as a gift. I then contacted Sammy Douglas MLA to help me get the project up and running - without his help I don’t think it would have happened,” he added.

For more information about Paul or his work log on to www.paulwilsonart.com