Nando’s removes artwork that ‘showed British soldiers in swastika shape’

A pink-tinted graphic image of a soldier aiming a rifle repeated as a motif which might be said to be swastika-shaped
Paul Watson said he immediately saw a swastika in the Nando's artwork - Paul Watson

Nando’s has removed an artwork that appeared to show British soldiers in the shape of a swastika from one of its restaurants, following a complaint from a customer.

Paul Watson ate at the chain’s Wallsend branch in Tyneside last week and noticed artwork hanging on the wall which showed four soldiers pointing guns, apparently in the shape of a swastika, inside a star and flower pattern.

Mr Watson, a former artillery soldier, said he was offended by the artwork and claimed it showed soldiers “depicted like a Nazi”. He claimed the helmet and gun model in the picture are used by British soldiers.

After he submitted a complaint to the restaurant chain online, Nando’s said the one-of-a-kind artwork had been hanging in the restaurant since its opening in 2013 without any complaints but apologised and removed it from the wall.

They said it was made by an unknown South African artist as part of a scheme to feature work from the country’s up-and-coming creators.

A Google Streetview image of a Nando's in a retail park
The artwork was displayed in Nando's Wallsend branch - Google

Mr Watson, from Fenham, Newcastle, said: “It seemed like they were saying the Armed Forces are Nazis. I was sitting next to it and when I looked across I had to look twice. I thought it was a swastika straight away.”

He added: “I was pretty annoyed and thought it was bang out of order. All these lads who go out and die, then they’re depicted like a Nazi.

“It’s wrong and it angers me whether it’s innocent or not. It’s really offensive to see it in public.”

The engineer, who served in the Army for six years including a short tour of Northern Ireland, tweeted his complaint at Nando’s the day he saw the canvas.

His wrote: “Is there any particular reason this picture depicting British troops as a swastika flag is hanging in your restaurant at the Silverlink in Tyne and Wear?”

A screengrab of the tweet quoted in the text
Mr Watson's tweet received swift attention from the restaurant chain - X

Nando’s messaged him directly the following day to inform him they’d contacted their “arts team” and were waiting to hear back.

The firm later confirmed the picture had been removed and said there were no others at its restaurants.

A Nando’s spokesman said: “We commission the art in our restaurants from up-and-coming South African artists, the country in which we were founded, and they are all one of a kind.

“We recognise that art is subjective and our intention is never to offend. We have removed it from display and apologise for any offence caused.”