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Adam Dant’s New Studio

April 10, 2022
by the gentle author


I was delighted to visit my long-time collaborator and Spitalfields Life Contributing Cartographer Adam Dant at his beautiful new studio high up in the roof of Sandys Row, London’s oldest Ashkenazi synagogue.

For over twenty years, Adam had a studio on Redchurch St but was forced to leave when it fell foul of redevelopment yet he landed on his feet in this magnificent garret, as he explained to me last week.

‘I wanted to stay in Spitalfields because I have a sentimental attachment to the place and it is the grist to my mill, where everything starts in terms of my work. The neighbourhood has changed a lot since I moved here in 1995. Ironically, there are as many empty spaces now as when I moved here, then they were empty because everything was derelict and nobody wanted them but now nobody can afford to rent them.

I knew some of the board members at Sandys Row Synagogue and I heard that the caretaker had left several years ago, and there was a garret and the top of the building that would make an ideal artist’s studio. It is nice and quiet here, and they still have services in the synagogue.

So I wrote them some charming letters and they thought it was a good idea to have an artist in residence, and here I am. The caretaker left her bright orange wood-chip wallpaper but I prefer a more muted orange. The colour honours William of Orange, whom the first congregation came over with, and today the interior of the synagogue is painted orange and cream in recognition.

This is exactly at the boundary of Tower Hamlets and the City of London is on the other side of the road, within spitting distance. It is very odd, the rubbish does always seem to end up on this side of the street. I have nice view of Broadgate, St Mary Axe and Tower 42 which lights up with different messages at night. The pub on the corner gets a bit noisy on a Friday night and I think the caretaker here did not like that.

I moved in three yeas ago, and I have redecorated it to suit my artistic preference and moved my library of London books in. It was the hottest day of the year and I had to carry everything up the stairs. During the pandemic, it was so quiet here it was eerie but I carried on working. It was just here alone, I picked up the post and made sure all was in order at the synagogue.

Then they took the roof off the synagogue and replaced it. I was out of here for several months and my murals got damaged but I quite like it because now it looks like they were here before I came.

The subjects of the wall painting are my personal heroes of Spitalfields history as featured on the map of The Gentle Author’s Tour of Spitalfields. There is Christopher Marlowe with his spaniel, Mary Wollstonecraft who was born not far from here in a house by the market, Jack Sheppard who was born round the corner in Whites Row, Anna Maria Garthwaite, the eighteenth century silk designer, Nicholas Culpeper and Emilia Lanier, Shakespeare’s Dark Lady and the first woman in this country to publish a book of poems under her own name.

It is like a fancy dinner party here with guests from history around the table which is from the cellar of the synagogue, they say it is a coffin table.’


You can visit Adam’s studio as part of an open day at Sandys Row Synagogue on Sunday May 1st noon-5pm. (£5 admission charge towards the upkeep of the synagogue and East End kosher fare served. For security reasons please do not bring backpacks and large bags.)

McDonalds’ map of Rome over the fireplace

Portraits of Anna Maria Garthwaite, Christopher Marlowe and Mary Wollstonecraft.

Portraits of Emilia Lanier Bassano and Nicholas Culpeper


Click here to buy a copy of The Gentle Author’s Tour of Spitalfields Map for £5



Thanks to the magnificent generosity of over 400 people who supported our crowdfund, The Gentle Author’s Tour of Spitalfields runs throughout the summer.

There are only few tickets left at Easter and we are now taking bookings until the end of May.





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

10 Responses leave one →
  1. Saba permalink
    April 10, 2022

    You have added whimsey, luscious color, and good taste to a significant architectural setting. Just a dream-come-true place to spend your days.

  2. Andy permalink
    April 10, 2022

    I like this article for its simplicity and evocative pictures. Thank you Gentle Author.
    Best wishes,

  3. Marcia Howard permalink
    April 10, 2022

    A lovely post, and a great space for an artist in a garret

  4. Josephine Eglin permalink
    April 10, 2022

    If there are any more open days at the synagogue/studio I am sure I am not the only one who would welcome as much advance notice as possible – so that we can book our (relatively) cheap train tickets up to London. The studio looks fabulous.

  5. Marnie Sweet permalink
    April 10, 2022

    If I were not in the rapidly waning years of my life and downsizing, I would snatch up every one of Adam’s amazing maps and all the books by you (Mr. Pussy, first) and your dear creative friends. Thank you for the joy and the occasional nostalgic tear your biographic portraits offer us.

  6. David Antscherl permalink
    April 10, 2022

    I just love Adam’s wonderful mural work. Beautifully conceived and executed! May his tenure in the studio be a long and happy one.

  7. C Scofield permalink
    April 10, 2022

    I so want to visit!

  8. Nicholas Borden permalink
    April 10, 2022

    Great Work!

  9. Mark permalink
    April 10, 2022

    As a decorator, always been a big fan of Banana yellow. Niiiiiice!!

  10. Jill Wilson permalink
    April 11, 2022

    So glad that Adam has found a studio in the heart of Spitalfields which has been such an inspiration to his work. It looks lovely, and the trompe d’oeil (spelling?) statues of his local heroes are fab!

    Long may he continue to work there and delight us with his fantastic maps.

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