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Adam Dant’s West End Launch

June 28, 2018
by the gentle author

Join me tonight from six tonight for the West End launch party celebrating publication of Adam Dant’s MAPS OF LONDON & BEYOND at The Map House in Knightsbridge and next Thursday 5th July for the East End launch at The Townhouse in Spitalfields.

29th JUNE – 14th JULY: Exhibition of Maps of London at THE MAP HOUSE, 54 Beauchamp Place, SW3. Opening sponsored by Hendrick’s Gin on 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 here to order a signed copy


This is Adam Dant standing in Boundary Passage, just off Shoreditch High St, with his hands placed protectively upon two Napoleonic cannons from the Battle of Trafalgar which are set into the pavement here to serve as bollards. Adam explained to me that each one has a cannon ball welded into the top and these trophies became the model when more bollards were required. Replicas were cast in different sizes and proportions, and today they are to be seen everywhere in London, yet among all the hundreds that line our city streets, these two are special because they are the real thing, though I wonder if anyone who walks through Boundary Passage today is aware that these are spoils of war.

For over a quarter of a century Adam has been living and working nearby in Club Row, specialising in the arcane and amazing, producing all kinds of ephemera, drawings and prints that exist somewhere between satires and celebrations. His subject is the diverse absurdity of culture and history. It is not Nonsense exactly, but Adam delights in serious craziness that pokes fun at our contemporary media by proposing charismatically strange alternative perspectives. He came here to this corner of Shoreditch in 1991, wishing to be within proximity of printers, not just for practicalities’ sake but because he has great affection for the culture of small-time old-school printers, as he recalled fondly,“There were a lot in Redchurch St then, I used to get plates made at ‘Holywells’, they used to make bromides too. ‘Foremost Grinding’ next door used to sharpen the blades for guillotines and there was the ‘Old Nichol Press’ where I could typesetting done.”

Visiting Adam in his beautiful studio on two floors of a tiny old workshop in Club Row, I walked straight in off the street, passing through a battered cane blind, to discover a scruffy yet cosy little room with a fireplace at one end and a drawing board that filled the entire wall at the other. All conveniently illuminated by the morning sun through the wall of translucent glass that comprised the street frontage. In one corner was a narrow desk, beneath a steep staircase, and at the centre of the room, floored with boards at eccentric angles, sat a small couch with a low table piled with history and art books. As I sat down, I cast my eyes up at the appealingly garish painting on the ceiling, rendered to look like wallpaper that looked like nineteenth century plasterwork.

I felt I met a kindred spirit when I first met Adam Dant because for five years he published a daily newspaper under a pseudonym, “Donald Parsnips’ Daily Journal” in an edition of a hundred copies that he distributed free each day.“I was making lots of pamphlets and maps and handbills at the time, I think I was impressed by the history of the City of London, especially the birth of the press and the unfettered pamphleteering tradition. I got up at six each day and used the available time before I left for work to write it, so if I got up late it looked a bit scrappy. I printed them at Frank’s photocopy shop in the Bethnal Green Rd and I’d hand them out as I walked between here and Agnews in Bond St, where I worked at the time. This was before all the free newspapers. It was the strategy of the fine artist, confounding people with preposterousness.”

Later this year, Adam Dant will be leaving his old studio in Club Row, prior to demolition and redevelopment, but I am proud that we have been able to collect the astonishing canon of maps that he drew throughout this time into book, which is launched tonight.





Adam Dant’s MAPS OF LONDON & BEYOND is a mighty monograph collecting together all your favourite works by Spitalfields Life‘s cartographer extraordinaire in a beautiful big hardback book.

Including a map of London riots, the locations of early coffee houses and a colourful depiction of slang through the centuries, Adam Dant’s vision of city life and our prevailing obsessions with money, power and the pursuit of pleasure may genuinely be described as ‘Hogarthian.’

Unparalleled in his draughtsmanship and inventiveness, Adam Dant explores the byways of English cultural history in his ingenious drawings, annotated with erudite commentary and offering hours of fascination for the curious.

The book includes an extensive interview with Adam Dant by The Gentle Author.

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

4 Responses leave one →
  1. Judi Jones permalink
    June 28, 2018

    Wishing Adam all the very best for the launch, I wish I could be there in person to appreciate what will no doubt be an evening drenched in a lively, warm and creative atmosphere. Enjoy.

  2. June 28, 2018

    Baronial-in-size, and totally UNIQUE-in-content……this is a must-have book. It begins with an insightful interview with GA, and then the reader is treated to a bounty of these incomparable maps-as-social-commentary. The large size of the book is perfect, allowing a close-up view of all the uncanny details from Adam’s pen. Impossible to button-hole, this book will provide fascination for history buffs, visual hipsters, design mavens, cartography geeks……and everyone else.

  3. Debra Matheney permalink
    June 28, 2018

    I received the book last week and it is a marvel of imagination and history. My favorite is the gin scarf and I will have a tipple of that libation tonight here in California to celebrate this accomplishment. Happy party to you all.

  4. Laura Williamson permalink
    June 29, 2018

    I’m not a Londoner but have seen those cannon all over the place when visiting and am enthralled by the story of the ‘real deal’ ones.

    Obliquely- there is a wonderful story I heard about Nelson. At a key point in a battle (possibly after he was wounded, I’m not sure) he said “Do you weigh anchor” This is sometimes seen as a question, but as he was a Norfolk man with considerable dialect and accent it meant “Weigh anchor” as, in fact, a command. As someone now domiciled in the area, it does make sense in terms of the cadences of speech.

    He apparently liked having Norfolk men on his ships as not only were they inherently loyal to him but could actually understand him easily.

    Best to Adam for the launch and thanks for this


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