'She presents her endlessly twisted view of the world' - What Inspires Me, with Manifest's Helen Kenny

Helen Kenny, associate director at Manifest, discusses what stirs her creative brain.


I have an overactive mind. I’ll often muse over creative ideas while drifting off and I always remember my dreams. So I will regularly wake up believing I’ve landed on some ‘divine inspiration’ in my dreams, sending 2am braindumps over Slack. In the cold light of day, most of these creative lightning strikes are meandering nonsense, but occasionally my subconscious will throw up a pearl or two.

A friend recently sent me a podcast called Why Sleep Matters by Matthew Walker, in the Talks at Google series, and it is an absolutely fascinating discussion of what happens while you sleep. During deep sleep, unbridled by logical thought or rationality, your brain will create new connections and links while you replay thoughts, experiences and memories at high speed. Quite literally a brainstorm while you sleep.


In a digital world moving at sonic speed, I have infinite respect for people who have the patience and skill to create something physical. From brewers to bakers to jewellery makers – there’s an honesty and an integrity to spending your day crafting raw materials into something beautiful. My dad worked as a cabinet maker and has an immense talent for constructing anything, and despite being retired always has a new building project on the go, much to my mum’s constant bemusement. His artisanal skill and patience seems to have skipped a generation, but I’ve inherited his passion for making and it is when I am most content.


I love to procrastinate and am constantly curious, so one of the things I miss most while working from home is eavesdropping. My colleagues will attest that I love meddling (sorry guys!) Why focus on your own work when you can just come up with some instinctive ideas without the limitations of a brief or having to understand the nuances of a client’s objectives? Trying to come up with snappy campaign names is my favourite way to procrastinate, and I will drop everything to raid an online thesaurus for the perfect pun for someone else’s client.

Julia Davis

Julia Davis is the mind behind, and star of, some of my favourite comedies. She is unflinching in her originality as she presents her endlessly twisted view of the world. She has the ability to switch from ugly to sexy, terrifying to vulnerable in a matter of seconds, and while her characters are extreme and often sociopathic, they still maintain a relatable humanity. Just when you think she has pushed her comedy to its limit, she will bulldozer you to somewhere new, unexpected and occasionally uncomfortable. Dear Joan and Jericha, her outrageously filthy podcast with Vikki Pepperdine, is the epitome of the ‘yes, and’ approach to improvisation and creativity in general – obliterating the status quo to take themselves and you as far as they can for their comedy.

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