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Adam Dant’s Rudimentary London

July 8, 2018
by the gentle author

Contributing Artist Adam Dant is celebrated for his intricately complex maps as published in MAPS OF LONDON & BEYOND, yet I fear the excessive heat may have got to him because this week he produced Rudimentary London which took him no more than sixty seconds. On first glace, you would be forgiven for thinking these are the deluded scribbles of a deranged imagination but the wonder of it is that anyone who knows the capital will be able to decipher Adam’s marks and identify its major landmarks immediately. To start you off, can you spot the Albert Hall and Tower Bridge?

(Click this image to enlarge)

“These bold squiggles are my attempt to encapsulate all the nuanced geographic complexity of the capital city executed in a single minute.

Inevitably, the resulting graphic ends up looking like a piece of Chinese calligraphy or the artistic output of a Zen monastery. When rendered as a woodblock print, the flicks and flourishes  of the brushwork resemble ‘ink rubbings,’ such as those produced from thirteenth century Suzhou astronomical charts.

My Rudimentary London is an exercise in reductive poetics, comparable to seeing the globe as a bubble or our lives in a grain of sand. In this realm, the futility of trying to record all of our diverse travails and triumphs in a single flick of the wrist invites comparison with the gesture of a vengeful and almighty creator who could sweep all matter aside with equal ease.

Yet as a depiction of the specific terrain of London, it is all there. The topography of the capital  can immediately be recognised by that confusing crook in the River Thames, bisected by the Fleet River, with the Euston Rd skirting its upper edge and splodged by familiar sites and landmarks. Nelson’s Column marks at the heart of London, Hyde Park and the Serpentine lie to the west, Regents Park sits at the top, while St Paul’s Cathedral and  Tower Bridge stand in the east. Between the bold black main thoroughfares, the knitted network of London’s alleys is suggested by the inky infill of chiselled gouges in the woodblock.”

Adam Dant currently has an exhibition at The Map House in Knightsbridge which runs until 14th July and at The Townhouse in Spitalfields which runs until 22nd July.





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

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

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

Map of the History of Rotherhithe

Map of Industrious Shoreditch

2 Responses leave one →
  1. July 8, 2018

    He also has a London map image at the Royal Academy exhibition at present.

  2. Garry Chapman permalink
    July 9, 2018

    Today I received my signed copy of Adam Dant’s ‘Maps of London and Beyond’ in the mail. Congratulations to Adam and his publishers on a stunning achievement. My great great grandfather, George Chapman, left his home in Primrose St, Shoreditch in 1852 and sailed to Melbourne, Australia, where my family still live. It is through the daily ‘Spitalfields Life’ and beautiful books like Adam’s that I am gradually building an understanding of the life and times of my great great grandfather and his townsfolk and the places where they lived and worked. I’m so excited to be visiting London next year for the first time to see some of these places with my own eyes. By that time I will have examined every last detail of Adam’s maps. Thanks so much.

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