Helen Cann: A Map of the Sea and the De La Warr Pavilion

21 Jul 2021–1 Jan 2022


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.”

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