Fifty People Of East London By Adam Dant
This week, Martin Usborne launches Hoxton Minipress to publish collectable art books about East London and it is my pleasure to preview his second title - Fifty People of East London by Adam Dant, to which I have contributed a brief introduction that is reprinted below.
Seller of Hair Brooms by William Marshall Craig, Shoreditch 1804
Adam Dant is the latest in a venerable tradition of artists stretching back more than five centuries who have portrayed the infinite variety of human life in our great metropolis in prints, chapbooks, and upon playing cards – creating sets of images commonly known as the “Cries of London,” featuring street traders and hawkers.
Spirited representations of the redoubtable female watercress sellers of Shoreditch abounded throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and in 1804 William Marshall Craig depicted a vendor of brooms struggling heroically beneath the burden of his stock outside St Leonard’s Church, while in 1812 John Thomas Smith drew William Conway of Bethnal Green who walked twenty-five miles every day to sell metal spoons throughout the City.
William Conway, Spoon Seller of Bethnal Green, by John Thomas Smith 1812
Yet for Adam Dant, two hundred years later, the precise nature of commerce undertaken by many of his subjects is less overt, though it is readily apparent that many are on the hustle in some way or other, but I must leave it to you to resolve for yourself the intriguing question of what exactly these Londoners of our own day are selling ….
Barge Dwelling Fantasist
Nigerian Shoe Seller
Well Off Art Student
Flower Market Shopper
Suburban Street Artist
Illustrations copyright @Adam Dant
Archive Images courtesy Bishopsgate Institute
You may also like to take a look at Adam Dant’s other cartoons
And his maps