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Dan Jones, Artist

June 14, 2017
by the gentle author

In the third of my series of profiles of artists featured in EAST END VERNACULAR, Artists who painted London’s East End streets in the 20th century to be published by Spitalfields Life Books in October, I present the joyous vision of Dan Jones. Click here to learn how you can support the publication of EAST END VERNACULAR

Click to enlarge Dan Jones’ painting of Brick Lane 1978

In Dan Jones’ exuberant and playful painting, Brick Lane is a stage upon which an epic political drama is enacted. From this vantage point at the corner of the Truman Brewery, we see an Anti-Racist demonstration advancing up Brick Lane, while a bunch of skinheads stand at the junction with Hanbury St outside the fortuitously named “Skin Corner.” Meanwhile, a policeman stops a black boy on the opposite corner in front of a partially visible sign reading as “Sus,” in reference to the “Sus” law that permitted police to stop and search anyone on suspicion, a law repealed in 1981. And in the foreground of all this action, life goes on – two senior Bengali men embrace, as Dan and his family arrive to join the march, while bystanders of different creeds and colours chat together.

Dan Jones’ mother was the artist Pearl Binder, who came to live in Whitechapel in the nineteen twenties, and since 1967, Dan has lived down in Cable St where he brought up his family in an old terraced house next to the Crown & Dolphin. A prolific painter, Dan has creating many panoramic works – often of political scenes, such as you see here, as well as smaller pictures produced to illustrate two books of Nursery Rhymes, “Inky, Pinky, Ponky” and “Mother Goose comes to Cable St,” both published in the eighties. In recent years, he has undertaken a series of large playground murals portraying school children and the infinite variety of their games and rhymes.

Employed at first in youth work in the Cable St area, and subsequently involved in social work with immigrant families, Dan has been a popular figure in the East End for many years, and his canvases are crammed with affectionate portraits of hundreds of the people that he has come to know through his work and political campaigning. Today Dan works for Amnesty International, and continues to paint and to pursue his lifelong passion for collecting rhymes.

There is a highly personal vision of the East End manifest in Dan Jones’ paintings, which captivate me with the quality of their intricate detail and tender observation. When Dan showed me his work, he pointed out the names of all the people portrayed and told me the story behind every picture. Like the Pipe & Drum Band in Wapping painted by Dan in 1974 – to give but one example – which had been going since the eighteen eighties using the same sheet music. Their performances were a living fossil of the music of those days, until a row closed them down in 1980. “They were good – good flute players and renowned as boxers,” Dan informed me respectfully.

The End of Club Row, 1983. Club Row was closed after the government banned animal markets

Last Supper at St Botolph’s, Aldgate. Rev Malcolm Johnson preaches to the homeless at Easter 1982.

Pipe and Drum Band in Tent St, Wapping, 1974.

The Poplar Rates Rebellion of 1921

Parade on the the sixtieth anniversary of the Battle of Cable St, 1996

Live poultry sold in Hessel St.

Fishing at Shadwell Basin.

Tubby Isaacs in Goulston St, Petticoat Lane.

Palaseum Cinema in Commercial Rd

A Teddy Bear rampages outside the Whitechapel Bell Foundry.

Funeral of a pig in Cable St, Dan Jones and his family come out of their house to watch.

Christ Church School, Brick Lane

Liverpool St Station

Watney Market

Paintings copyright © Dan Jones

Click here to preorder a copy of EAST END VERNACULAR for £25

17 Responses leave one →
  1. June 14, 2017

    Dan’s paintings are a joy to see – what talent to show everyday scenes, I felt like I was there. Valerie

  2. June 14, 2017

    I like Dan Jones pics and will call him the ‘peoples’ artist. My favourite one is the cosmopolitan Brick Lane so much history & culture this is the top place in the East End. I hope some of his pics will be included in Friederike and Co.’s forthcoming book East End Vernacular. Another pic I like – shown here is Teddy Bear rampage this would lighten up any good book, specially as the Whitechapel Bell Foundry gets a mention by Dan the Cable St man !trust a bear to be dominant, we all love bears. Poet John PS – I just know the book will sell, it will be the only one of its kind in the world, there is enough material in the East End of London net for a Vol 2.

  3. June 14, 2017

    I first met Dan Jones in 1982. He’s been campaigning against racism and fighting for social justice all his life. He’s very modest when it comes to his work as an artist. I’m really pleased he’s going to be in the book as his work deserves wide recognition. He’s captured the fighting spirit of the east end in a way that is accessible to all. Dan talks about how his work has grown out of his politics in the film ‘From Cable Street to Brick Lane’:

  4. Shawdian permalink
    June 14, 2017

    These are all skilfully painted with an abundance of detail and colour. The tunel vision in ‘Liverpool Station’ quite draws me in (excuse pun) I want to peak through that white centre leading out of the station to see what it there. And of course Big Teddy has to be applauded for his stance at the Bell Foundry. Wonderful !

  5. June 14, 2017

    …..the small boy, in the Hessel Street painting….Notice how he has created an instantaneous
    headdress for himself by poking white goose feathers into a head band. By including such
    cunning details, the artist has invited us into an intricate world of Observation and Memory;
    vibrantly depicted and (dare I say) lovingly created.
    This is a magnificent series. Perhaps the Vernacular project will need to be MANY volumes?
    We can only hope.
    Thanks for this exuberant blast of optimism today.

  6. Michael permalink
    June 14, 2017

    Did the Teddy Bear rampage actually happen? Or is Dan playing with us?

  7. Shirley Murgraff permalink
    July 11, 2017

    Dear Dan

    This looks really great. But before anything else|I’d really like to get in touch with you. Can you give me an email address please? And/or ring/text me?

    I do hope all well with you – it looks as though it absolutely is!

    All best wishes

    Shirley M (remember me???)

  8. Spencer permalink
    July 19, 2018

    I have known Dan for over 37 years. He was a regular visitor to our school “Blue Gate Fields” where I attended along with his two sons. An awesome chap who is passionate about all his art and I have been fortunate to have a copy (which I retain today in mint condition, signed by Jackie Robertson) of Inky Pinky Ponky for which Dan’s illustrations are quite prominent. You wont meet a nicer bloke in your life. His art is testament to a lifetime of hard word and it’s shows in his quite unique artwork. I have also been fortunate enough to see some of his artwork in an unfinished state before any other member of the public had seen it. Thank you for the wonderful art Dan, may it keep coming for many years.

  9. bill ball permalink
    February 3, 2019

    The London Lowery

  10. Simon Bees permalink
    March 14, 2019

    A Bathonian by birth, I have been a lover of the East End for 25 years and stay at St. Katharine’s in Limehouse every winter. Dan Jones captures the history and culture of East London life like no other. The viewer can believe that every character depicted represents real people. My favourite is ‘Last Supper at St Botolph’s, Aldgate. Rev Malcolm Johnson preaches to the homeless at Easter 1982.’

  11. LORRAINE Nugent permalink
    August 16, 2019

    George baynham was my grandad and Freddy my uncle from havering st. Love the story that goes with painting arp Joexx

  12. Jill Hogben permalink
    September 20, 2019

    I am trying to get in contact with Dan Jones who starred with me on a hot vinyl sofa in Ealing Studios in 2003 with Bernice and Mischa Goldman filming for ‘This Morning’. I have out-takes of that time which are hilarious and would like to send Dan a copy. I wanted to send one to Mischa but sadly learnt he had died. Please get in touch.

    I only recently found the out-takes on a video – my son worked for Channel 4 at the time and managed to get them for me, they are now on DVD.

    Jill Hogben –

  13. PETE HEED permalink
    October 27, 2020


  14. August 16, 2021

    Dear Dan Jones loving documentor of 80’s diversity and all our history…not flinching from the shocking death of Blair Peach. Great to see these paintings…in 2021…still painting Dan?

  15. Laura buckley permalink
    January 17, 2023

    Dan Jones has had a huge Influence in my life and I would like to contact him to purchase a painting and a print of bigland st. E1 Festival. Please could you advise .
    Laura buckley
    Former watney st resident

  16. Louise Shaw permalink
    July 4, 2023

    Looks like lots of people are searching for Dan. I am searching for him because he has been part of my life via a print of one his incredible paintings, which has hung on my wall for over 40 years. El Pueblo, Unido, Jamas Sera Vencido The Workers, United, Will Never Be Defeated. This poster has a potent emotional connection to my mother, who was the leader of the Labour Party in a small town in the south coast of England in the late 70s- early 80s. She died in 1995 due to primary progressive MS but became a disability rights activist and was on 23 committees until her death. The poster hung on her bedroom wall and now hangs very poignantly and proudly in my lounge. It is one of my most treasured possessions. However, it is sadly fading and so I’m trying to find a way to purchase a copy of the print. Any advice or help would be very gratefully received.

  17. Dina Grantham permalink
    November 19, 2023

    Can u tell me about a painting by dan Jones
    SA-1008… It has hot air balloons over ocean and beach. When it was painted, inspiration for it, u can email me or call (901) 572-3274. USA

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