Legends [originals]

The Legends originals are a series of mixed media artworks which map the journey of British cyclist Harry Binns, and his pathway from keen young observer, to one of road cycling's persona non grata. Through these windows into the celebrated heros of Tour de France past and present, the lucid spectre of Binns underlies the vibrant, colourful exploits of the great and good.

Each artwork features wrap-around collage components, including symbolic cut-outs, and occasional cartoon episodes - these courtesy of Ruby Lustre - a regular cartoon strip from Cycling Weekly.

Each Legend canvas features a central, multi-stencil rendition of those who challenged the greatest race in the world, in chronological order:

Fausto Coppi, Brian Robinson, Harry Binns, Jacques Anquetil, Tom Simpson, Barry Hoban, Eddy Merckx, Mark Cavendish, Bradley Wiggins.

Also available - Legends [Stencil series] - a limited edition stencil series.

Legends [originals]
50 x 40cm x 3.5cm
Pigment print, collage, acrylic, spray paint, Krink marker on canvas.

For buying enquiries - shop@james-straffon.co.uk

Fausto Coppi SOLD

Brian Robinson SOLD

Harry Binns SOLD

Jacques Anquetil

Barry Hoban SOLD

Tom Simpson

Eddy Merckx

Mark Cavendish

Bradley Wiggins
All artwork, text and images © James Straffon 2022.


Cycling shoe, chrome finish on enamelled wooden plinth 2014

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Redemption is an epitaph to the British cyclist David Millar. The title is taken from the last word of Millar's biography Racing Through the Dark: The Fall and Rise of David Millar. With the cyclist's final season of racing taking place in 2014, this artwork was created for the Carbon, Sulphur and Paint exhibition, at RedHouse Originals, Summer 2014.

The fi'zi:k cycling shoe was donated by David Millar, and has been specially chromed, in homage to Jeff Koon's Rabbit (1986). This artwork was exh

All artwork, text and images © James Straffon 2022.

Contrôle Anti-Dopage

Contrôle Anti-Dopage
40.5 x 60.5 x 4.5cm
Acrylic box frame. Original Tour de France sign. Mixed media, acrylic and spray paint.

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Contrôle Anti-Dopage reinterprets the symbolism within Hieronymus Bosch's renaissance masterpiece 'The Garden of Earthly Delights'. Painted in 1505, this strikingly 'modern' triptych is said to suggest a warning on the dangers of giving in to life's temptations.

Assuming this proposition, Contrôle Anti-Dopage adopts a facsimile of some of the core symbols used by Bosch. The Garden becomes the rich pastural landscape through which the Tour travels; the Earthly Delights the highs and lows associated with winning the race through forbidden means.

Bosch's three-panelled artwork travels left to right - from the joy of the Garden of Eden, passing ultimately into the torment of Hell; light into darkness. Similarly, Contrôle Anti-Dopage takes the emotions of a Tour contender's (Roger Rivière) girlfriend as she optimistically celebrates his majesty, to finding herself experiencing the anguish of disaster, sat at her lover's hospital bedside, his back broken from a fall, the result of closet opioid analgesic abuse. She gazes back into the composition, diametrically opposing the optimism experienced that very same morning.

Like a bad acid trip, Contrôle Anti-Dopage is littered with the psychedelia of other worldliness. As with The Garden of Earthly Delights, birds mingle among the humans (including Tour sponsor Le Coq Sportif), as malevolent beings. Centrally perched on the head of Tour legend Fausto Coppi, is an owl. Bosch liberally placed this feathered creature throughout his composition, subverting its common notion as a symbol of wisdom, to represent the negative - a creature of the night, all seeing, yet blind; accepting of evil; mocking the foolishness of man. The owl in Contrôle Anti-Dopage stares at the medic man, toting the panacea of doping; a cure for all ills; acknowledging the forbidden fruit of sport and performance enhancing substances.

Since the very first Tour de France in 1903, competitors in this physically, mentally and psychologically demanding sporting event have sought a plethora of means to augment their natural state of being; some in order to challenge for overall victory; others wanting simply to complete the event.

Contrôle Anti-Dopage uses an original piece of Tour signage as its backdrop - the directional prompt for any rider required to visit the post-race doping facility. This particular sign was used in the 2009 Tour de France - significant in its chronology as the comeback Tour of a certain Lance Armstrong. The arrow points to key moments within the Tour's turbulent battle with doping, and the varied means of defying the odds. Yet on face value, the direction points backwards, not forwards.

Littered throughout this dreamlike landscape of confessions and confectionery lie the victims of success, and failure. This wonderland of giant red blood cells and the wallpaper of the everyday are the spectral trails of temptation.

The girlfriend of french rider Roger Rivière is seen reaching out to touch him as he begins Stage 14, on 10 July 1960. Moments later Rivière would plunge into a ravine; the side effects of taking the drug Palfium (Dextromoramide), which masked his ability to brake efficiently. Her anguished hospital-bedside stare follows the sign's requisition.

Fausto Coppi, Il Campionissimo, hides his face. This the Italian cyclist who on a televised interview spoke openly on his use of amphetamines:

Do cyclists take la bomba?
Coppi: Yes, and those who claim otherwise, it's not worth talking to them about cycling.
And you, did you take la bomba?
Coppi: Yes. Whenever it was necessary.
And when was it necessary?
Coppi: Almost all the time!

Another Tour legend noted for his candor with regard to doping was five-time Tour winner Frenchman Jacques Anquetil. His comment "Do they expect us to ride the Tour on Perrier water?" suggests the demands placed on professional road cyclists sanctioned the means by which they competed.

When the scheduled doctor pulled out of the 1952 Tour de France, Pierre Dumas was brought in as a late replacement. He would go on to be the official Tour Doctor from 1952 to 1969, and become a pioneer for drug testing programs in the Olympic Games as well as cycling. In the 1955 Tour, Dumas was called to resuscitate Jean Mallejac, who had deliriously collapsed on the ascent of Mont Ventoux. Twelve years later, on the morning of 13th July 1967, Dumas prophetically declared  "If the riders take something today, we'll have a death on our hands". Hours later he would attempt to administer an an oxygen mask to the unconscious British Rider Tom Simpson, who had collapsed on the same slopes as Mallejac. Simpson was pronounced dead at 5:40 p.m. Dumas refused to sign the death certificate.

All artwork, text and images © James Straffon 2022.


follow 50 x 40cm
326 x 600mm Di-bond High Intensity Prismatic road sign. Flourescent spray paint. 
In a limited edition of 3 - 2 remaining. Each unique. Signed.
£750 £400

For buying enquiries - shop@james-straffon.co.uk

For the 2014 Tour de France, Yorkshire County Council created new signage, distributed throughout the region, for both Stage 1 and 2 routes. This subverted Stage 1 revision was commissioned from the same production company (William Smith), with a reinterpretation of the original colourway and form.

Referencing the work of French street artist Clet Abraham, each sign has been stencilled with additional paintwork. These 'mischievous' Harry Binns reworkings pay homage to the famous 'Kilroy was here' graffiti form, created during World War II.

Cllr John Weighall, leader of Yorkshire County Council, and Gary Verity
(photo: Tom Swain/Welcome to Yorkshire).
All artwork, text and images © James Straffon 2022.

Target with Four Bottles (after Johns)

Target with Four Bottles (after Johns)
64.5 x 42 x 5cm
Wooden box. Plaster casts. Mixed media, acrylic and spray paint.

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A hommage to Jasper Johns' Target with Four Faces 1955.
Repositioning the original artwork through use of a target motif, juxtaposed with four plaster casts.

Mapping the success of Team Sky in the 2012 cycling season, Target with Four Bottles transplants like-for-like forms - the bottles being casts of an original Team Sky drinking bidon; the target a combination of Team Sky colours and the RAF Roundel adopted by 2012 Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins as his unofficial insignia. Scraps of newsprint used by Johns in his original have been referenced with a front cover from L'Equipe sports newspaper, running the headline CIEL, QUEL, WIGGINS!

All artwork, text and images © James Straffon 2022.

100e - the twelve prints

Read  Imaging the Century - the foreword to 100e, written by Graeme Fife, author of The Beautiful Machine.

Purchase details
Archival pigment print on Hahnmühle German Etching 310 gsm.

Size 1: 20 x 16 inches / 50 x 40 cm
A limited edition of 20 in this size, each signed and numbered on the front.
Print price: £595
Size 2: 38 x 16 inches / 95 x 76 cm
A limited edition of 5 in this size, each signed and numbered on the front.
Print price: £1,950

For buying enquiries - shop@james-straffon.co.uk

All artwork, text and images © James Straffon 2022.

'Kids from Kilburn aren't supposed to win the Tour'

'Kids from Kilburn aren't supposed to win the Tour'
550 x 22 x 22 cm
Acrylic, pen and mixed media - vintage cycling magazines and Tour de France Route map - original Départ sign from the 2012 Tour de France (hosted by Liège), Bont cycling shoe worn (Team Sky race-used) by Bradley Wiggins, 20mm board and hand-forged meat hook.

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This special, commemorative artwork celebrates British cyclist Bradley Wiggins, and his 2012 annus mirabilis.

A truly remarkable 'year of wonders' would see him become the first Briton to win the Tour de France. He also became the only cyclist to have won the Tour de France, Paris-Nice, Tour de Romandie and Critérium du Dauphiné in the same year. As well as the only rider to have won the Tour de France and an Olympic gold medal in the same year.

Wiggins would be awarded the coveted Vélo d'Or, and BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2012. And by winning a gold medal in the 2012 London Olympic Games Time Trial, now jointly holds the honour (along with Sir Chris Hoy) of being the most decorated British Olympian - with seven medals. His incredible year would be capped by receiving a knighthood in the New Year's Honours List - becoming Sir Bradley Wiggins.

His affirmation 'Kids from Kilburn aren't supposed to win the Tour' is inscribed on the right flank of the cycling shoe. Which also features a hidden epitaph to Wiggins' childhood idol Tom Simpson - located within the insole.

This unique piece is fashioned from the very materials which have made Le Tour a true spectacle - the directions to the start of the 2012 Tour, the map of its heritage years, the shoe worn by the 2012 Champion.

All artwork, text and images © James Straffon 2022.


77 x 60 x 7 cm
Carved wooden frame, acrylic and pen on board, cigar bands, collage, resin, bicycle chain. 
VOILA - no.172. 4 Juillet 1934


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The Tour de France - borne out of a circulation-boosting publicity stunt for an ailing newspaper.
At the end of the 19th century, Frenchman Henri Desgrange abandons his job as a solicitor’s clerk for the lure of competitive cycling. On 11 May 1893 he sets the first recognised hour record, travelling 35.325 km at the Buffalo velodrome in Paris. The following year he publishes La Tête et les Jambes, an existentialist tomb on the sport of cycling. In 1897, he becomes the program director for the Vélodrome Parc des Princes, later the director for Vélodrome d’Hiver.

The story of the Tour begins in 1900, with Desgrange appointed director and editor-in-chief of a new sports newspaper - L’Auto-Vélo. In November of 1902, desperate to gain ground on rival publication Le Vélo, an idea is proposed by Auto-Vélo’s cycling editor Géo Lefèvre. Desgrange concludes a crisis meeting at Zimmer Brasserie, Paris, by asking Lefèvre “If I understand you, petit Géo, you’re proposing a ‘Tour de France?’”. Two months later, on January 19th, 1903, following a lawsuit issued by Le Velo, the newly-renamed L’Auto announces “the greatest cycling trial in the entire world. A race more than a month long: Paris to Lyon to Marseille to Toulouse to Bordeaux to Nantes to Paris.” The Tour de France was born.
At 3 pm, on July 1st 1903, around sixty cyclists form the first Grand Départ, outside the Café au Reveil Matin, Montgeron, chasing a 3,000 Franc first prize. ‘LE TOUR DE FRANCE - LE DEPART’ proclaimed L’Auto’s front page. Entrepreneur and self-publicist, Henri Desgrange would stay out of the limelight until the race concluded. Later, with circulation increasing dramatically, and L’Auto positioned as France’s dominant sports newspaper, he became Le père du Tour de France.

Henri Desgrange died on August 16th, 1940. A monument in his honour lies on the Col du Galibier; the Prix Henri-Desgrange awarded each year to the first rider over the top.
L’Auto ceased publication on 17th August 1944. A week later Paris is liberated by allied forces. In 1946, L’Auto’s spiritual successor is launched - L’Équipe.

A variety of citations suggest the Tour leader’s yellow jersey (maillot jaune; introduced in 1919), references the distinctive yellow newsprint on which L’Auto was published; Eugène Christophe being the first to wear it.
[VOILA includes the names of every Tour de France winner, since its start in 1903]

All artwork, text and images © James Straffon 2022.