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Eliza Southwood

Illustrations celebrate cycling in an East London cafe

by Karen Day in Culture on 02 August 2012

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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.

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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.

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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

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