helen walsh

Matera – Arrival, Departure, Arrival (or why leadership matters).

The stunning opening scenes of the 2021 James Bond film, No Time to Die, were shot in Matera, which I recently visited. Matera is located in the Italian province of Basilicata, a smidge over the border from Puglia (but formerly part of it). It’s either the third oldest city in the world, after Aleppo and Jericho and/or the oldest continually habituated city in the world, depending on who’s telling the story. Either way, it’s no spring chicken, […]

Departures and Arrivals (part 1), The Typewriter Museum, Books and Film/TV.

Taking Stock Last night was the winter solstice. Midwinter, the shortest day, the longest night. The ancient astronomers saw the solstice as the moment the sun stood still. A long, winter’s night that even before it finishes, has given birth to the slow climb back toward longer days and a more fiery sun. The Gemini twin-heads of endings and beginnings are on my mind as I write, waiting for the sun to come up. This year, I […]

Puglia, War and Figgy Pudding

I’m writing to you from the land of figgy pudding, carol concerts and endless streets strung with Christmas lights. December in London – my favourite time of the year. The city is jammed; one taxi driver told me it was the busiest he’d ever seen it in thirty years of driving. I made the mistake of trying to walk Oxford Street between meetings, only to find myself sandwiched in a mosh pit of humans, moving forward […]

Art Biennales, New Films + Substack

Happy September, friends! How did we get here already? It’s Saturday, and I’m writing this at the cottage, that very Canadian of experiences, having come from a mid-afternoon kayak in the hot sun, followed by a plunge in Georgian Bay water already cooling enough to be refreshing. Tonight’s temperature promises to be an unseasonably chilly 9°C/45°F; I’m thinking a blankie, roaring fire and small scotch will be required. Bliss, in other words. August usually finds me chasing […]

Private Libraries, Curated Book Boxes + Ascendent Indies

A few years ago, I started work on a story idea about a woman who curates private libraries for clients. I’d recently read an article in the FT and it piqued my curiosity. A library is your story on a shelf.  – Nicky Dunne, creator of bespoke private libraries. Heywood Hill is not your average bookshop. Opened in 1936, it was run during the later years of WWII by Lady Anne Gathome-Hardy and novelist Nancy Mitford, of the infamous Mitford […]

NYC, Tribeca Film Festival + War Correspondents

I’ve just returned from the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. It was literally the Big Smoke: at times the air was orange and unbreathable due to forest fires burning in Québec. As one taxi driver said to me, it brought back eerie memories of the last time the air had been that bad: September 11th. And I agreed. The Tribeca Film Festival was founded by Robert DeNiro, his long-term producing partner Jane Rosenthal and her then husband Craig Hatkoff in […]

Special Edition: London Book Fair, Part 3/3 + Newport, Rhode Island

I’m writing this from the Newport, Rhode Island where I am having a 4-day long weekend. It’s The Ocean Race weekend, the only North American stop on an around the world sailing race (32,000 nautical mile or 60,000 km), that is amongst the world’s toughest and craziest team sports. The crew race day and night for more than twenty days at a time on some legs, slammed by the wind and waves and extreme conditions that can fluctuate from -5 to +40 degrees […]

Special Edition: London Book Fair, Part 2/3

I don’t know about you, but I gave last weekend’s coronation a pass. The pictures on the news though, all that ceremony and pomp, cheekily reminded me of an event I stumbled upon at the National Gallery when I was in London for the Book Fair. The National Gallery’s Friday Lates is free evening arts programming that varies each week; in this case Life Drawing. Two performance artists  interpreted a Renaissance painting from the gallery (The Ugly Duchess) and […]

Special Edition: London Book Fair, Part 1/3

I’ve returned from a fascinating week in London in which I stayed in Shepherds Bush, a dynamic area west of Kensington I’d never really visited except to go to meetings at the BBC. My hotel was oddly fascinating. My room triggered an unfortunate muscle memory of Super 8 Motels from US road trips; the breakfast area was filled with publishing types and in the evenings hordes of men speaking Russian, often sporting loud gold jewellery, occupied the main floor […]

Origin Stories + London Book Fair + Book & Film RECs.

When my sisters and I were bored or listless, depressed or anguished, our mother would inevitably say, ‘you need a project.’ It set our teeth on end. Did she not understand the nature of heartache? The cruel injustice of the world that handed things to other people – whether that was a loving partner, a paying job, good health or the opportunity to chase your dreams – and denied it to you? We wanted to wallow in […]

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