Elena Mazzoni Wagner
LONDON Before introducing Eleanor Crow, I’ll let you know how I found out her illustrations: reading a blog that daily tells about life in Spitalfields and surroundings, about East End’s placed and people. This blog, born on 29th August 2009, is called Spitalfields Life and its posts are signed by “the gentle author”. If like me you’d like to live in Brick Lane to go every Sunday to the market, to eat street food from everywhere, to have some tea at The Vintage Emporium, to go shopping you can do only here, to take advice about new albums to listen at Rough Trade, to photograph serious street art, to discover new art galleries in Redchurch Street, to drink coffee at Allpress, to see a show at Rich Mix, to go out at night around Shoreditch, to have dinner sitting on a cardboard box at Story Deli, and so on… I suggest you to browse this diary, full of many stories and curiosities.
E. Pellicci (1939) – 332 Bethnal Green Rd
Now let’s talk about our meeting with Eleanor Crow. Eleanor is an illustrator and book cover designer. Something of her style make think of Beatrix Potter. She also likes drawing animals, but here we show you a curious series of watercolour portraits as a tribute to East End cafes: “It’s because they’re individual concerns, often owned by families across generations who get to know all their customers. I like the frontages because each is designed uniquely for that café with wonderful sign-writing or lettering and eye-catching colours. Some of these cafés have been here for a very long time and everyone in the area is familiar with them, and is very fond of them. They make the streets into a better place and are landmarks upon the landscape of the East End”.
Where are you from, Eleanor? Cornwall, originally. But I’ve been living in London for 17 years.
I’ve read you like drawing everything, from armadillos to zucchini. Well, it was an a-z thing. But I’d choose an armadillo over a zucchini to draw – they’re generally more animated.
I really like your Cafes illustration series (maybe because I’m Italian and coffee addicted). Why did you choose this subject? London has some wonderful, colourful cafés that have been there for a long time, and they’re much loved (and any closures are mourned). People travel from far and wide to visit the ever-popular, friendly E. Pellicci‘s at Bethnal Green (founded by Elide Pellicci in 1939 and still managed by the same family).
Are these Cafes all from East London? If yes, why did you choose this part of the city? These cafés are all from East London postcodes, although they’re across quite a wide area. It’s the part of London I know best. There are many new coffee bars springing up, which serve wonderful coffee, but it’s the classic ones that people feel the most affection for.
Where can I find the best coffee? Try them all!
Kingsland Café – 476 Kingsland Rd
Gina’s Restaurant (1961) – 17 Bethnal Green Road
Beppe’s Café (1932) – 23 West Smithfield
Arthur’s Café (1935) – 495 Kingsland Rd
A. Gold (1880) – 42 Brushfield St