Eliza Southwood

Illustrations celebrate cycling in an East London cafe


In a small show curated by Hackney GT, architect-turned-illustrator Eliza Southwood has outfitted Wilton Way Café with a host of bicycle-inspired drawings, prints and ephemera for a new exhibition celebrating cycle culture and sport. The London-based artist’s vibrant retro aesthetic sets the tone for a quick look at the history of cycling, which includes old-school posters and an original “Opperman” BSA racing fixie suspended from the ceiling, a model used during the pivotal 1931 race from John O’Groats to Land’s End.


Fascinated with Major Taylor, an early pioneer of American cycling, Southwood recently created a series depicting the late 19th-century champion in various racing moments, including a notorious one-mile championship in 1899 where he competed against rival Tom Butler.


Southwood’s cheerful color palette smartly balances such historically intense moments in cycling, but her trained eye for technical drawing keeps each portrait from feeling inappropriately animated.

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Home to London Fields Radio and the maker of one of Hackney’s meanest coffees around (with beans from local roasters like Climpson & Sons), Wilton Way Cafe is an ideal spot take in Southwood’s cycle-inspired illustrations, as well as magazines and posters by Rouleur, which will all be on view throughout August 2012.

Images by Karen Day and Andrea DiCenzo