A Map Of The Sea by Helen Cann

'A Map of the Sea and the De La Warr Pavilion' is Helen Cann’s newly commissioned mural for the

De La Warr Pavilion’s Rooftop Foyer.

Cann’s drawing depicts the Pavilion facing a swirling sea of historic events and figures, current desires, provocations and predictions, and maritime details. Queen Cynethryth of 8th Century Mercia, the Pavilion’s architects, and the Maharajah of Cooch Behar, drift amongst spider crabs, sandbanks, the wreck of the Amsterdam, and a dinosaur whose footprints from the Mesozoic era were found on Bexhill beach. Ebbing and flowing throughout are comments and questions shared at community events, about how the Pavilion can collaborate with publics towards the creation of a more equitable, environmentally sustainable society.

The drawing is based on an Admiralty Chart that maps the seven-mile stretch between Norman’s Bay to the Pavilion’s West, and Bulverhythe to the East. While the map that Cann refers to accurately depicts the current shoreline, predictions about rising sea levels indicate that by 2050, many areas around the Pavilion may be subject to regular flooding, and the Pavilion may be completely under water in the future.

Cann sees the area as “a border, constantly washing up visitors – invaders, tourists, migrants, refugees and those seeking health from a sunny beach and waters.  And, of course, Pevensey Bay is part of the National Marine Conservation Area and home to a multitude of other creatures like shellfish, crabs, seahorses, and fish.  This is an unconventional map, perhaps, but one that I hope gives a broader view of the place and its many layers.”


About Helen Cann

Helen Cann is an award-winning illustrator and artist with a special interest in mapmaking. Her illustrated maps have helped wanderers, armchair explorers, festival goers and nature lovers. They have appeared in books, TV and film props, folded small into brochures or shouting loudly as murals. Her personal work explores the intersection of place, flora, fauna, history, linguistics and community knowledge. She believes that multi-level mapping like this can lead to a deeper understanding and appreciation of the personal environment, resulting in the motivation to protect.


Previous clients have included Towner Gallery, the National Trust x the Cider Museum, Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft, Lionsgate Films, Ridley Scott Ass., MMoser Ass. x Unity Technologies, Bloomsbury, Octopus, BBC and HBO amongst others. She is the author of Hand Drawn Maps – a Creative Guide (Thames and Hudson).


About the Installation

A Map of the Sea and Bexhill is based on the Admiralty Chart of the coastline from the site of the old Martello Tower at Norman’s Bay to the wreck of the Amsterdam at Bulverhythe. Bexhill has had a relationship with the sea for centuries, despite never having had it’s own fishing fleet, and I focussed on mapping the bay rather than the town.  Elements from the Admiralty chart are featured – light vessels, undersea pipelines and the obscure names of rocks and reefs and sandbanks. But this maritime relationship is more than one of pure geography. Other symbols swim in the waters of my map too. The sea acts as inspiration for artists and architects.”

Staying locally

There are plenty of welcoming and good value B&Bs & boutique hotels in Bexhill. The De La Warr Pavilion regularly uses the following :

Travel information
  • By Rail
    Direct trains go from London Victoria, Brighton and Ashford to Bexhill.
    There are also trains from London Charing Cross, changing at St. Leonards Warrior Square and from London Bridge or Charing Cross going to Battle. Battle is only a short taxi journey away (15 mins approx).
    Visit www.nationalrail.co.uk for up-to-date train travel information.
  • Taxis
    Town Taxis:  01424 211 511
    Parkhurst Taxis:  01424 733 456
  • By Car
    If driving from the London area:
    Take the M25, then A21 to Hastings. Turn off at John‘s Cross and follow the signs to Bexhill.
    Take the A22 to Eastbourne, go across the Bishop roundabout to the A271 and follow the signs to Bexhill and the seafront. The De La Warr Pavilion is on the Marina.
    From the Brighton area:
    Follow the A27 out of Brighton until you arrive in Bexhill On Sea.
  • Parking
    Please be aware the Rother District car park outside the De La Warr Pavilion operates paid parking until 7pm. After this time parking is free. There is also lmiited free car parking along the seafront.

Within the limits of this Grade One listed building, the De La Warr Pavilion strives to be fully accessible with a range of facilities to support your visit.

Assistance Dogs are permitted into the building.

Please contact the Box Office on 01424 229 111 to arrange a visit.

Facilities for disabled visitors

  • Ramped access at the front of the building
  • A low counter at the Box Office and  Information Desk
  • Disabled toilets on two floors
  • A lift to all floors
  • Accessible galleries on both floors
  • An accessible Café
  • Spaces for wheelchairs in the auditorium for seated events
  • Ramped access in the auditorium for events during the day
  • Ramped access into the Studio
  • Two travel wheelchairs are available for use at the De La Warr Pavilion. To reserve, please call our box office and information desk on (01424) 229111 or ask a member of staff on arrival. The chairs are provided on a first come, first served basis and are intended for use inside the Pavilion. Please contact us for more information.

Facilities for blind or visually-impaired

  • Large print season brochures

Facilities for the hard-of-hearing

  • An T-Switch induction loop in some areas of the auditorium (please indicate when booking as this facility is not available on the balcony)
  • British Sign Language interpretation tours of the building and exhibitions are available on request.