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The Map Of Shoreditch In Dreams

June 19, 2018
by the gentle author

Adam Dant is giving two illustrated lectures in the next week in celebration of the publication of his magnum opus MAPS OF LONDON & BEYOND. You can catch him in at the Wanstead Tap in Forest Gate on Thursday and Stanfords in Covent Garden next Tuesday, and he has two exhibitions forthcoming too.


THURSDAY 21st JUNE 7:30pm: Lecture at THE WANSTEAD TAP, 352 Winchelsea Rd, E7. Click here to book

TUESDAY 26th JUNE 6:30pm: Lecture at STANFORDS, 12-14 Long Acre, WC2. Click here to book

29th JUNE – 14th JULY: Exhibition of Maps of London at THE MAP HOUSE, 54 Beauchamp Place, SW3. Opening Thursday 28th June 6 – 8:30pm

5th – 22nd JULY: Exhibition of Maps of the East End at THE TOWN HOUSE, 5 Fournier St, E1. Opening Thursday 5th July 6 – 8.30pm


(Click to enlarge)

This is the first map Adam drew of his chosen neighbourhood of Shoreditch back in 1998.

“I’d been thinking about how Shoreditch existed in people’s imaginations and subconscious and how I could render that visually,” explained Adam, “So I went to a lecture at the Jungian Society in Hampstead on the subject of ‘Collective Dreaming.’ It turned out to be a circle of people sitting in a room with a ‘dominatrix’ holding a clipboard – bobbed hair, German spectacles and pencil skirt – and she asked people to describe their dreams, with a view to explore common themes that might point to a collective unconscious. It was very embarrassing because people were revealing things about themselves that if they were aware of the language of psychoanalysis they would have kept mum.” He added later in qualification, “I wasn’t using ‘mum’ in a Freudian sense.”

Taking his cue from the Jungian Society Lecture, Adam set out to collect the dreams of his neighbours and other residents through surveys and in conversation. Then he portrayed them all on the map you see above as a means to illustrate the heaving and teeming collective unconscious of Shoreditch. I was astounded when Adam showed me his huge drawing done directly in ink onto a piece of paper that is a metre square, without any single mistake or even an inkblot that might open itself to interpretation – almost obsessive compulsive in its neatness, you might say.

As we commenced our cartographic analysis, Adam explained that his orientation was looking to the West with a rat-infested Shoreditch High St crossing the map laterally. In the bottom left of the map, he pointed out the tiger prowling the streets continously and, further up to the right, the facades of the Boundary Estate propped up by wood, and then, over in Hoxton Square, the giant Teddy Bear at its centre. Images pregnant with meaning yet resisting simple interpretation. Most fascinating to me were the elements of premonition within the map – the giant pizza outside the Tea Building on the corner of the Bethnal Green Rd exactly on the site of the new pizza restaurant which opened more than a decade later and the bendy bus in the centre right of the map, drawn years before these strange vehicles became actuality and then became defunct.

You will note that this map was drawn and published under the name of Donald Parsnips – Adam Dant’s creative alter-ego – and it is the image of Donald Parsnips in his tall hat that dominates the centre of the chart, produced when Adam was also publishing “Donald Parsnips’ Daily Journal” distributed in a daily edition of one hundred copies free to the people of Shoreditch. Subsequently, Adam produced maps of Shoreditch under his own name, but whether we can infer some kind of reconciliation of the ego and super-ego as a result of his work in cartographic interpretation of Shoreditch in Dreams, I leave you to decide for yourself.

Or, to quote a speech bubble from the map, “The finer points we’ll leave to the discretion of the silly folk!”

Adam Dant’s  limited edition prints are available to purchase through TAG Fine Arts.



One Response leave one →
  1. David Guy permalink
    June 19, 2018

    Our copy arrived yesterday. Brilliant and a gem of a book.

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