The award-winning and brilliant London-based fine artist and cartographer, Adam Dant, has been described as the ‘Hogarth for our times’. From his studio above the oldest Ashkenazi synagogue in Spitalfields in the East End, Adam surveys the past present and future of our ever changing city. His astonishing maps are beautiful and ‘subversive’ at the same time.
His stunning book ‘Maps of London and Beyond’ comprise fabulous characters from Dickens and Shakespeare to Barbara Windsor, as well as shipwrecks on the Thames and starry skies over Soho.
In 2015, Adam was selected as the official artist by the House of Commons to document Britain going to the polls. This took him on a tour of the realm where after 1000’s of miles he turned the election campaign into a huge pen and ink drawing which now hangs in Parliament.
Adam’s work has an eye for detail that we all see every day in London, but probably dismiss as we rush around in a blur. It has humour, sincerity, and historic value and I absolutely love it.
Adam was kind enough to invite us to his working studio and chat about what inspires him and his love for our fascinating metropolis.
This is Your London Legacy.
“I’m not alone in being described as being Hogarthian—it’s jus the perennial concerns of artists who observe, and I do a lot of observation.”
Adam was quite inspired by museums and has always been interested in art and studied at Cambridge before going to Liverpool to see “more action”. He had a wonderful animation professor and before he knew it he was in an exchange program and ended up in Vadodara India, he thought to study graphic design. It ended up being a print making course, and after coming back to Liverpool and transitioning to the Royal Academy of Art he exclusively used their print shops.
“There’s an aspect to being an artist which is, like you have no choice. You cant imagine do anything else.”
Adam’s love for maps has evolved over the course of his career and he has definitely pushed the boundaries of the art form and what they can contain and represent. He’s just finished an Argonautica map that overlays London with a map of the ancient world and is an episodic journey of Jason and the Argonauts stopping at places in London that coincide with the classical adventure.
“A map presents a whole picture, but within a map its objective presumably—but it’s subjective, we all use a map in a different way.”
Adam followed around the parliamentary elections and by the end of the race, donated 2,000 sketchbooks to the Parliamentary Collection. The goal is to combine these images into a single pictorial space, and not in a mocking caricature that most people, politicians included, may think of when they think about political art. His innovative maps don’t stop their either—another innovative map chronicles the dreams of residents in Shoreditch, and yet another of Shipwrecks along the Thames (which the port authority wouldn’t quite divulge all the locations to him). Adam has a rare and fascinating artistic mind that will sure to be roaming London’s streets in order to continue to display them in the unique fashions they deserve.