Helen Maarterns Owl House New Betesda

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The owl house nieu-bethesda

Helen Martins was the creative force behind Nieu Bethesda's Owl House, a weird and wonderful paradise of concrete figurines and light reflecting glass.

“The Owl House is a national monument in Nieu-Bethesda, Eastern Cape, South Africa. Her work was a source of suspicion and derision within the village and during her time, Helen Martins received very little support or enthusiasm about her work.    Her lifelong exposure to the fine crushed glass she used to decorate her walls and ceilings caused her eyesight to start failing in 1976. She committed suicide on August 8, 1976 by ingesting caustic soda, aged 78.”

The Owl House is a national monument in Nieu-Bethesda, Eastern Cape, South Africa.

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'.

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'.

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