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From The Library Of Dr London

September 6, 2012
by the gentle author

Shewing passage through the capital from its gullet to its arse

Click on this plate to enlarge and savour the full detail of Adam Dant‘s map which describes a journey through London as if through the human digestive tract from the mouth in Whitehall to the rectum in Whitechapel. Adam has taken liberties with anatomy to place the brain in Westminster, the liver in Fleet St, the heart at St Paul’s, the stomach in the City and the genitals in the East End. Yet it all serves to illustrate his notion that “London is akin to a voracious and hungry organism with the Thames running through it as a peristaltic gut continually in motion.”

This is just one of series of ingenious maps of big cities that Adam has contrived to capture their essential qualities, portrayed in huge ink drawings of double-page plates from volumes in the mythical Library of Dr London – all executed while touring around European capitals this summer and exhibited in a show which opens tonight at Hales Gallery.

Map of the City of London as a stained glass of Gog & Magog – Logos of corporate finance stand in place of crests of the livery companies.

The capital as a phrenological diagram, indicative of the desire for social order expressed by London’s squares.

Paris – The Bones of Liberty.  The figure of “Liberty Leading the People” by Delacroix is manipulated to correspond to Baron Hausmann’s street plan.

Zurich as Hellmouth – The mouth is located at the Bahnhof and the journey to its arse, where it shits coins into Lake Zurich, runs through the Bahnhofstrasse which is home to the biggest banks with vaults containing more gold than anywhere else on earth.

The Nerves of Istanbul – The inspiration was a medieval Persian medical diagram with the head turned upside down and, on this map, it corresponds to the more European areas – while the coloured nerves correspond to the ferries, which cross the Bosphorus carrying commuters who live on the Asian shore.

New York. Manhattan stripped bare in the four different ways – the vessels, the entrails, the organs and the ribs.

Toyko – Shunga Metro Map. Tokyo is personified in a subterranean fashion through wrestling figures intertwined to form the lines of the subway.

Adam Dant spent the summer touring Europe with his peripatetic atelier to create the exhibition.

Drawings copyright © Adam Dant

Adam Dant’s exhibition From the Library of Dr London opens tonight at Hales Gallery  in the Tea Building, 7 Bethnal Green Rd, and runs until 6th October.


You may like to take a look at some of Adam Dant’s other work

The Redchurch St Rake’s Progress

Map of Hoxton Square

Hackney Treasure Map

Map of the History of Shoreditch

Map of Shoreditch in the Year 3000

Map of Shoreditch as New York

Map of Shoreditch as the Globe

Map of Shoreditch in Dreams

Map of the History of Clerkenwell

Map of the Journey to the Heart of the East End

Meeting of the Old & New East End in Redchurch St

Click here to buy a copy of The Map of Spitalfields Life drawn by Adam Dant with descriptions by The Gentle Author

2 Responses leave one →
  1. joan permalink
    September 6, 2012

    My daughter starts secondary school in Stratford next week. In preparation she has had to write something about three places of significance in the locality. She seriously wanted to write about the bin in Westfield which Adam has christened the heart of the East End and which we always comment on whenever we pass it. I’m afraid I was a spoilsport and stopped her! Didn’t know how it would go down with her new teachers.

    Best wishes,


  2. April 29, 2013

    My comment on The Economist article “Fun with place-names: A map’s a map for a’ that”
    contains a 6-verse limerick with footnotes that describe an ancient anthropomorphic map of Aphrodite (Afro-deity) in north Africa. You can see it at

    For a partial description of a similar map of Hermes, whose navel was at Mt Hermon near Lebanon (a reversal of Sanskrit nabhila = navel), see

    The drawing at
    includes a map that is similar, if not identical, to the one described at

    To quote Noam Flinker at
    “One sees ‘the woman’, mulier, whose head and nose constitute the coastline of North Africa (present Morocco and the Cape of Tanger), thrusting her nose toward the ear of ‘the man’, vir, whose head is constituted by Spain and whose armed hands correspond to the Italian peninsula and Greece. …”

    The weapon in Neptune/Poseidon’s right hand was Trinacria (now Sicily) from tri = 3 + Semitic NaQaR = pierce, that is, a trident. His left hand held a woven (Semitic S’RoG) net which reverses to Greece and a small shield (TaRGe) which reverses to Crete. The Triskele flag of Trinacria & Sicily, a woman’s face surrounded by 3 running legs, was a graphic pun on Poseidon, that is, Semitic PoS = female pudenda + SHeN = teeth (at a time when the letter shin had a dental T-sound), rather scary from a Freudian viewpoint.


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