Adam Dant: Drawing the crowds

Local artist Adam Dant’s illustrations make up this year’s Winter Festival brochure. We caught up with him recently to ask him a little more about what went into drawing for Spitalfields Music.

Spitalfields Music Winter Festival 2012 brochure

Our Winter Festival 2012 front cover

Could you tell us a little bit more about the illustrations you produced for the Winter Festival brochure?

In making pictures for the Spitalfields Music Winter Festival Brochure I decided to adopt the sensibility and style of 18th-century popular prints (the inspiration and starting point for much of my work as an artist).

The heavy black lines, emphatic composition and hastily applied single colours of these prints I thought would fit nicely with the current vogue for the simple elegance and ‘workaday’ vernacular of both the restored ‘Georgian’ architecture of Spitalfields and the ‘Baroque’ musical repertoire.

I thought that by showing different animals encountering period instruments I might, in a very charming fashion, embody references to popular printed pamphlets (such as those of John Playford and the precedents of his books) and perhaps show that though music of the 18th century is well understood and mastered there is in its historical remove something eternal and magical. The animals look at the musical instruments much in the same fashion as their 18th century counterparts would. Is it possible that our reactions to the music might parallel that of our predecessors in a similar fashion?

You’ve produced a very fine map of our venues this Festival, what draws you to making maps?

I’ve drawn a map of the area surrounding my studio in Shoreditch every year since 1995 when I moved there. The maps show the neighbourhood according the dreams of the areas inhabitants, speculation as to its pre-history and how it will look in AD 3000 etc, etc. In my latest exhibition “From the Library of Dr London” I depict various cities ‘personified’ through manipulation of their street plans so Paris becomes a vision of ‘Liberty leading the people’ and Monaco a reclining Picasso nude.

I’m drawn to making maps because they allow for an immediate transformation of how we view the familiar.

How did you approach producing a map for us?

It’s a picture of a map rather than a map. It’s sitting on a Georgian type music stand so it’s somewhere else whilst showing places we need to know if we’re to find the venues for the festival concerts. Maybe when we reach the venue we will be in the realm of this map pictured.

Spitalfields Music Winter Festival 2012

Fox illustration from our Winter Festival brochure

You’re also a local resident, what do you enjoy about the area?

I moved to Shoreditch as all the printers I needed for work were here. It was a very shabby and gloomy neighbourhood but the people who lived and worked here were very straightforward, friendly and understanding and very good fun.

I enjoyed that working and socialising in Redchurch Street, Boundary Street, Chance Street was always a bit of an unpredictable  adventure in a world that seemed completely apart from the rest of the capital. I think that people visiting the area over time must have noticed this, hence its popularity today.

And finally, are there any chances coming up for people to see more of your work?

I have an exhibition until the 6 October at Hales Gallery, 7 Bethnal Green Road: “From The Library of Dr London”.

Also my large commissioned drawing “Bibliotopia” is in Zurich’s Museum Strauhoff (Museum of Literature) as part of their “Book Heavens Book Hells” show all autumn.

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