Helen Cann

I work as both artist and illustrator and am also the author of Hand Drawn Maps – a Creative Guide (Thames and Hudson). My illustrated maps have helped wanderers, armchair explorers, festival goers and nature lovers, folded small into brochures or shouting loudly on signage. They’ve even appeared as props in Hollywood films and on TV.  Although my practice is broad, I’m interested in strengthening the side of my work supporting the understanding of place, environment and protection of the natural world. 

Clients have included the National Trust, the Ouse and Adur River Trust, Octopus, Bloomsbury, Lionsgate and HBO/BBC. 

My personal work, mainly in watercolour or pen and ink, focusses on mapping the intersection of place, flora, fauna, history, linguistics and folk knowledge. I believe that multi-level mapping like this can lead to a deeper understanding of the personal environment through which comes appreciation and a motivation to protect. I run site-specific hand drawn mapping workshops at galleries and museums (for example Towner, ONCA and Ditchling Arts + Crafts Museum). 

I live in Brighton on the South Coast. I love to escape the tourists on the sea front, finding the green gold in my urban landscape or walking in the South Downs.


Map created for the exhibition ‘Apples and People’ for the National Trust, the Brightspace Foundation and the Cider Museum in Hereford.

‘We Dream of Blue Whales’ triptych created in response to a residency documenting whale sightings in the North Atlantic in association with ONCA.

Illustration for ‘The Almanac 2021’ by Lia Leendertz for Octopus.

Information board created for the Ouse and Adur River Trust, the Adur and Ouse Partnership, Sussex Wildlife Trust, The Environment Agency and the IFCA.

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