Sarah Langford

Visualising Invisible Oceanic LandscapesA workshop proposal to map information and data collected from submarine canyons, by World Leading Researchers at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton


I am currently undertaking a collaborative project with the Natural Environment Research Council’s National Oceanography Centre (NOCs), and the University of Southampton’s Ocean and Earth Science department, to visualise for the very first time data gathered from mapping exercises of submarine canyons.  The Centre hosts one of the world’s largest groups of scientists and engineers devoted to research, teaching and technology development in Ocean and Earth science and is ranked second in the UK for research recognised as world leading (Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences, REF, 2014). This new project is working directly with leading Ocean and Earth Science Researcher Dr. Esther Sumner. The workshop will be a starting point and way of understanding these complex and non visual oceanic landscapes through illustration.

This visualisation of this data will enable researchers, students and the public to engage and understand our Oceans in ways that have yet to be realised or understood and could be used to support teaching and learning directly within the Ocean and Earth Science department and within there world leading online MOOC (Massively open online course) with the Open University and Future Learn.

My previous practice based research with the Icelandic Met Office, Cancer Research, and now the Ocean and Earth Science Department are fuelling my fascination with Geology.  As an illustrator and Educator, I am interested by the responsibility we have to communicate, as well as how illustration can be used as a device to benefit others. The communication of meaningful and complex causes can be opened up through Illustration and the approaches to visualising the world through Illustration.

This would be the first workshop to investigate this data. The workshop would involve a short presentation, followed by problem solving and drawing activities in an attempt to visualise these oceanic wild places. By creating these visualisations and new representations I hope researchers, educators, and students will be better equipped to start to solve some of the issues that face our Oceans and the research undertaken by the Ocean and Earth Science department.

There has never been an attempt to create these visualisations, diagrams, or maps before so it will be revealing to see what is created in this workshop. Although they are well know, the study of these canyons has been a challenge because of their complicated morphology and extreme terrain. The unknown, undiscovered element of these mysterious terrains are fascinating to me, and an age where Google Street View allows you to walk into, and around buildings anywhere in the world.

This workshop would form part of the larger project with NOCs and the plan would be to translate the activities of the workshop, the discussions and findings into an academic paper for the Journal of Illustration and other Ocean and Earth Science publications, to showcase approaches and methodologies generated through illustration to support and enhance understanding of Ocean Science.


Sarah Langford is an Illustrator and Educator working in Winchester. Sarah runs the Illustration pathway on the Graphic Arts course at Winchester School of Art.  Her research interests include Geology, and Geography. Sarah’s work has been exhibited internationally, and she is currently working with University of Southampton researchers on a project involving visualising data collected from oceanic landscapes.

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