National Trust Commissions
I met Helena in 2010 when she was performing at a concert at Sudeley Castle as part of the Winchcombe Festival. I was then the Operations Manager at Coughton Court in Warwickshire for the National Trust, a property where the donor family still live and manage the gardens. I was looking to develop music and arts at the property and during our initial conversation Helena showed real interest and seemed full of ideas with a real passion for connecting place with art. I was drawn to this enthusiasm and after several meetings at Coughton she agreed to become involved in starting Coughton Arts – a programme of music and art including both free and ticketed events. While she was paid for poetry commissions and concert performances she became the Honourable Arts Director. The first trial event in 2011 was music and poetry concert and this received great feedback. Her passion was infectious and she drew in the wider property team and followed up connections and contacts.
Helena is reliable and practical in terms of delivery. In 2012 I commissioned Helena to write a series of poems to mark 20 years since the gardens started to be created at Coughton. The poems appeared in the gardens on various mediums that Helena again sought and then worked with the donor family gardeners to engage them in the project. The poetry trail was popular and a key part of Coughton Arts in 2012. In 2013 as part of the interpretation in the house Helena was again commissioned to write poems inspired by the objects as part of a Cabinets of Curiosity theme. The poems formed the interpretation in the rooms for visitors. Helena responded well to feedback about the garden poems and so the house poems were shorter – punchier and had a good hint of humour in several of them. One of Helena’s talents that we only really saw in the Poetic Piano concerts is that if performance both of her own and others poems and this is an avenue we did not get chance to really explore at Coughton.
It was a pleasure to work with Helena, someone is alive with art and always looking for how things can be done rather than why things can’t. I would have no hesitation in working with Helena again and likewise have no concern about providing this reference for her. She inspires teams that are not aware of their creativity and opens up doors that provide new ways to view objects and places.
- Christian Walker, General Manager at National Trust