In 2015 Helena gained a first-class honours degree in Humanities with Creative Writing and Art History from the Open University, and graduated at Ely Cathedral in June 2016.
She is now undertaking a two-year Master’s degree in Local History, again with the Open University.
In May 2017 she was awarded postgraduate funding from the Open University’s Crowther Fund to study aspects of the Industrial Revolution in the Scottish Borders. The funding is in the form of travel costs, accommodation expenses, and tuition fees to participate in letterpress and bookbinding workshops at Robert Smail’s Printworks in Innerleithen.
In July 2017 she submitted a successful tender proposal to Lakeland Arts, and worked with a wider team developing a mixed schedule of new interpretation as part of the Blackwell Project at Blackwell, the Arts and Crafts House, Bowness-on-Windermere. Her research centred on the Holt family and their household. The Holt’s interaction with Blackwell as a holiday home and the reasons they visited less frequently after the Great War form the basis of four scripts that were recorded as a series of augmented realities placed throughout the house from 15 September 2017. In addition to writing the scripts, Helena voiced the part of Edith Winterbottom, in-between maid at Blackwell. She is currently carrying out research for a forthcoming book about the Holt family of Blackwell and life in Edwardian England.
Her academic interests include: the development of the printing industry in the Scottish Borders following the repeal of paper duties in 1861; the hand loom to the power loom in the Lancashire textile industry; Edwardian women’s sexuality, particularly that of the working and domestic classes; women of the Edwardian arts movement in Kirkcudbright. She is also interested in changes to small-scale farming in the Rossendale Valley brought about by the Industrial Revolution: the lives of the Woods farming family during the long nineteenth century form the basis of her Master’s thesis.
Helena’s creative work spans several disciplines. A major interest is the lives of textile workers in nineteenth-century Lancashire, reflected in her cross-genre project, Spinning Jenny. Whilst studying Herbal Medicine under the tutelage of Dr Midge Whitelegg, she developed an enthusiasm for Goethian science and uses this intimate, direct means of relating to the natural world in her poetry. She is also keen to explore the pre-industrial heritage of her Cornish cordwainer ancestors.
Her poetry has been placed with Pushing Out the Boat, The Stare’s Nest, StAnza Poetry Map of Scotland and Word Bohemia.
Her artistic influences include Autumn Richardson, John Clare, Kathleen Jamie, Richard Long, Annie Lee, Derek Tangye, Pauline Burbidge, Ken Cockburn, Daphne du Maurier, Alec Finlay, Virginia Woolf, and Barbara Hepworth.