Artist profile - Grange-over-Sands cartographer Kate Lloyd-Philipps


Drawing a map pointed this artist in the right direction for several successful commissions.

Most people use maps to find their way but you would happily get hopelessly lost in one produced by Lakeland artist Kate Lloyd-Philipps.The Grange-over-Sands artist combines skill with pen and brush with a quirky sense of humour and a fine eye for detail reminiscent of children’s book illustrator Quentin Blake. Whether you class it as cartoon or cartography, the result is entertaining, informative and absorbing.

Kate and her four children moved to an apartment with stunning views over Morecambe Bay 13 years ago. She’d left Surrey searching for ‘somewhere the children could run free.’

‘It was the best thing I ever did,’ she says. ‘I’ve made many wonderful friends here and it’s a beautiful place - I’ve come to God’s playground.’ To help her negotiate this particular playground, Kate started to draw maps.

Her grandmother gave Kate her first set of professional watercolours when she was six and she’s barely stopped using them. Hardly surprising when you consider her antecedents. A son of Van Dyke, the 16th Century Flemish court painter, married one of her ancestors and, in more recent times, her grandmother exhibited at the Royal Academy and her father was a student at the Ruskin School of Art.

‘Painting a map helped me to understand the area I’d moved to and I hope they can help others,’ adds Kate, currently studying drawing at degree level. ‘The first map was Windermere – I did it for a competition. They were looking for something to illustrate a board at the railway station.

‘I thought the map would be useful but I wanted it to appeal to children as well as working for people who wanted to get the lay-out of the area. I didn’t win but it kicked me in the right direction.’

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Since then she has produced more in pen, ink and watercolour, including views of Morecambe Bay, Hawkshead and Cartmel. Produced as prints, they are proving popular and she has secured several commissions including one to draw a highly complex map of France during the Roman occupation for use as a desk diary frontispiece.

She says: ‘I do loads of research, visit the places and chat to local people. That way you get some of the less well-known information that makes the map more interesting. The more you look at them, the more you discover.

‘The research takes up around 35 hours per map and roughly the same time to draw them in pen and ink and then watercolour. I get absorbed in the intricate detail. Sometimes I forget to eat!’

That’s certainly true of this map of Morecambe Bay. For instance, look closely and you can spot one of the weasels Kate saw chasing around Humphrey Head and there’s a tiny flounder swimming off the coast at Flookburgh.

‘I want them to be accurate but not in a pedantic sort of way,’ she says. ‘But I must confess the pirate ship and the whale in the corner of Morecambe Bay were flights of fancy!’

Kate Lloyd-Phillips sells prints of her work for between £35 and £50 and they are also available as postcards. They can be bought in local shops or you can find more details of her website