The Friday Special – Helena Introduces Her New Art Appreciation Course

We’re handing the Friday Special Podcast over to Helena for the next few weeks – for her new Art Appreciation course.

Here’s my (David’s) Introduction…


We’ve got unfinished business with the Friday Special Podcast.

Early in the year Helena had started a series of her Art Appreciation, Art History, Art Criticism talks. The idea was to give her the Friday slot for several weeks running and let her get on with. We made a start – well, she made a start – and then the thing got derailed. Along came the Tourism Superstar competition and I had to break off the start Helena had made, put her Art Appreciation series on hold.

But as of today, it’s no longer on hold. And we’re going to do it properly. Start from the beginning and hold to our course, hold to her course. Every Friday special for the next few weeks will be a Helena art appreciation podcast. They’re progressive, they build – so it makes sense to start from square one and commit to showcasing them week by week, honouring the overall structure for the very good reason that it is a series, almost an art history and art appreciation course – and the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. So for the next few, Fridays belong to Helena and her love of her subject.

And maybe a brief word here about Helena. As she’ll tell you in this Introductory talk, she guided, brilliantly, for us for 11 years. And then we lost her to Cornwall. Now in a sense we’ve got her back, at least insofar the podcast strand of our programme. And we’re hoping she’ll be doing virtual tours before too long. Helena’s an Oxford graduate. History and Art were and are her subjects. She’s a brilliant guide – they just don’t come any better than Helena Jones. I’ll just push out two stories here which, combined, get her into focus. An American friend – he’s a big deal in corporate America – the most successful American I know – was in Helena’s thrall. When he was in London he would always ask which walks she’d be doing during his stay. Christopher memorably said, “I could listen to that little blonde all day.” Well, yeah, I know, it’s not politically correct – but it is what it is. It’s the assessment of a high-powered, tack sharp American executive who doesn’t suffer fools, who doesn’t any time for waffle or anything less than the first-rate.

That was Christopher. Now me, David. I also am in thrall to Helena’s art talks. I learn so much from them. And I now have done a lot of podcasts. Getting on for 500 of them. Ninety-nine out of a hundred times I script mine and then record them. I assumed Helena was doing the same. Because they’re so well put together, she’s so articulate, so assured, they’re delivered so beautifully. My jaw dropped when she said, “no, I don’t script them – I just do them.” I’m still stunned, almost in a state of disbelief. Certainly in a state of wonder and renewed appreciation. That’s it, every time I listen to her now I’m aware, I’m thinking, she’s doing this unscripted, off-the-cuff. That’s a measure of both her command of her subject, and the range and power of her mind. In academic terms, she’d be one of those rarities, an Upper First. I’ve never asked her but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if she was an Oxford Upper First. When you listen, just keep it in mind, “she’s doing this unscripted.” It’ll add to your enjoyment and appreciation.

Ok, here’s Helena. Weighing anchor and setting sail on her latest Friday Special Art Appreciation course. 

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