By Project do you mean Folder? Can you actually see the two photos in LrC? Or are you finding it difficult to locate them?
Try using the Filter bar, text filter, search for the filename to identify where they are according to Lightroom.
That's good, and my apologies for being a Mac person where it's one file!
The Helper file contains information that Lightroom would otherwise need to go and look for - lists of folders, for example, and Keywords. Sort of like a cache really. When it's deleted, this gets rebuilt as...
Next to the catalog there's a Helper file (catalog name Helper.lrcat) - delete it. When you open LrC next it'll create a new one and your Keywords will work. It's a logged issue.
And welcome to the Forums!
You're probably best hearing from someone with an M1 machine. I know Cletus has the iMac and Mark the MB, but the general recommendation was for 16GB RAM. These posts may be of interest, but wait for one of those two to comment...
It was a solution for the poster. As Louie mentions, the benefits of GPU depend on the resolution and system spec.
Peter - why Classic 8.1 and not the latest (10.3)? I appreciate it might be a system restriction.