Helen Elizabeth Martins | South African History Online
Helen Elizabeth Martins was born on 23 December 1897 in the Karoo village of Nieu Bethesda in the Eastern Cape. She was the youngest of six children and spent her childhood growing up in Nieu Bethesda. She went on to obtain a teacher's diploma in nearby Graaff-Reinet and, around that time, married Johannes Pienaar - a teacher, dramatist and, in later years, a politician.
The Owl House is a museum in Nieu-Bethesda, Eastern Cape, South Africa. The Owl House and surrounding Camel Yard contain over 300 concrete and glass sculptures created by Helen Elizabeth Martins and her assistants. Almost all of the sculptures face towards the east, many depicting a pilgrimage to a suitably positioned nativity scene. Helen Martins was almost 50 before she started decorating the Owl House and creating her marvelous sculptures.
HELEN MARTINS (1897-1976) | THE OWL HOUSE | South Africa | Known to the residents of Nieu-Bethesda as 'Miss Helen' and thought of as a strange and rather outlandish character, she shied away from general contact, and began transforming her house and garden. Despite crippling arthritis, and the amputation of her small toes which left her unable to wear anything but slip-ons on her feet, Martins decorated her home with 'glass and light'.