That’s When Good Neighbours Become Good Friends: Helen Nisbet

9 November 2019



Following on from the All Day Reading Groups she organised at Cubitt Gallery, Helen Nisbet has organised a session as part of And What It Became Is Not What Is Now,

Working with her neighbour Oscar Da Costa, the pair have selected two texts to be read aloud in the gallery from 1pm – 5pm on Saturday 9th November. 

The texts reflect on what it means to be away from a native land, culture or language and to become something or someone else in a new one. Helen is from Shetland and Oscar from Uruguay. Helen has lived in London for over 15 years, Oscar for over 45. They have lived next door to each other since 2016. 

Oscar’s text is the first chapter of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling. He and his late partner Nicholas spent a lot of time in Lanzarote where Oscar was able to speak his first language a little closer to his new home. On one trip, a friend’s son introduced him to Harry Potter, which he read in Spanish long before realising the cultural impact the book was having across the world. 

Helen has selected The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd. This classic piece of nature writing, by Scottish writer Nan Shepherd does not describe Helen’s native Shetland, but reading the book reminded her of the importance of landscape and being within it, with no particular goal or aim. It also proved a reasonable salve when homesickness kicked in and London felt like miles from home. 

Helen Nisbet is a curator from Shetland, now based in London. She is Artistic Director for Art Night and curates projects across the UK. Helen sits on the Acquisitions Committee for the Arts Council Collection and the Advisory Board for Art Quest. Her publication It Disappears in Blue and Red and Gold was published by Bookworks in 2018.

Please note Helen Nisbet has organised this session, but will NOT be at Grand Union in person.