Helen Cann

Helen Cann

An artist, author and illustrator specialising in hand-drawn maps, interested in how creating these allows us to notice what’s important to us in our natural environment

I am principally an illustrator specialising in hand-drawn maps but am also an artist and an author (How to Make Hand-Drawn Maps: Thames and Hudson). Additionally, I run hand-drawn mapping workshops in museums and galleries (Towner, Ditchling Museum of Arts +Crafts, ONCA, for example).

I am particularly interested in how creating personal maps, often involving a walk as part of that process, allows us to notice what’s important to us in our natural environment. By doing this, collecting data on micro and macro levels and mapping a particular area with these features, we can learn what we most value, how our landscapes are changing and what we could lose.

Historic maps are a huge source of inspiration; as documents that show what the mapmaker (or their patrons) considered important in the landscape to feature and how the etymology of place names indicate human habitat, use and ultimately value of the environment. Personal work (hand-drawn or painted maps) considers how an appreciation of a landscape, both urban and rural, involves multiple layers of information: geographical, historical, linguistic, cultural and personal.