Terry Bradley creates new artwork for 'World's Best Bar's fifth anniversary

The portrait depicting The Dead Rabbit's titular mascot in Bradley's trademark style has been unveiled this week in New York City

An original portrait by famous Belfast artist Terry Bradley has been unveiled in New York to mark the fifth anniversary of The Dead Rabbit, the bar twice crowned as the world's best.

Titled 'Bradley Dead Rabbit', the artwork depicts the signature character from the establishment's comic-style menus but in the trademark style Bradley has become recognised for the world over.

The Rabbit character is inspired by John Morrissey, historical leader of the Dead Rabbits gang which itself gave Belfast co-founders and managing partners Jack McGarry and Sean Muldoon the bar's name. In Bradley's piece it appears in front of an American flag, cigarette in mouth and sporting bandages from a recent fight. It's also emblazoned with familiar skulls, roses and other symbolic elements along with the words 'Hope', 'Honour', 'Trust' and 'Justice'.

The artwork marries oil and acrylic paints, charcoal, graphite, as well as coloring and drawing pens to create a haunting, multi-layered effect. It now hangs prominently behind the point station on the bar's second floor and is intended to signify the beginning of the Rabbit’s transformation from a cartoon character to one in real life.

Dead Rabbit Painting

'Everybody in Northern Ireland knows who Terry Bradley is,' says Muldoon. 'His art is iconic. I first saw it at a Belfast bar I was working at in 1998. Fast forward 20 years to today, we saw a perfect fit for him to reimagine the Rabbit character more realistically, yet moody and intense. With milestones like the bar’s upcoming expansion, our second book being published and our new Irish whiskey launching, it is a perfect way to salute 2018.'

'Our bar is all about attitude and edge and Terry’s art definitely takes it to a new level,' adds McGarry. 'In his portrait, Terry’s made the Rabbit less cartoony, more flesh and blood, but still otherworldly and menacing. Terry hails from the same part of Belfast as Sean and I and we think a lot of his hallmark style is rooted in his upbringing, which we very much relate to.'

'My painting came about after rounds of discussions with Sean and Jack about their vision for the bar’s future,' says Bradley. 'From there, I added my own thoughts to create a deep, disturbed character, a journeyman who has been there and done that, not someone to mess with. I want viewers to keep coming back to the image because they always find something new in it, maybe something they didn’t see before or something they interpret differently on different viewings.'

Since opening in 2013 The Dead Rabbit has been decorated with a host of accolades, namely the award for 'World's Best Bar' first in 2015 at Tales of the Cocktail and then the following year coming out on top of The World's 50 Best Bars. It has also received honours for its drinks selection, and in particular its cocktail menu. Both McGarry and Muldoon worked previously at the Merchant Hotel in Belfast.

Meanwhile last October saw Bradley open his first permanent gallery in Bangor. Situated on the town's High Street, the space showcases the artist's own limited edition prints as well as unique, one-off designs. To learn more go to www.terrybradley.com.

Stay up to date with The Dead Rabbit by visiting www.deadrabbitnyc.com.