SA artist Helen Martins is born


Helen Martins

Thursday, 23 December 1897

Helen Elizabeth Martins, artist known for her queer sculptures at the Owl House in the Karoo village of Nieu Bethesda, was born in Nieu Bethesda in the Eastern Cape. She was born in the same house in which she committed suicide, the house she named "The Owl House". At the age of fifty, when her husband died, she stopped going to church. She began to create a series of extraordinary eccentric creatures of wire, cement, and cut glass. It included owls, camels, wise men, women, and children walking on the road to Mecca. Her artwork, once an object of derision and embarrassment, has become the single most important asset of the village of Nieu Bethesda.

• Verwey, E.J. (ed)(1995). New Dictionary of South African Biography, v.1 , Pretoria: HSRC.
• Neurodiversity, (2006), Helen Martins, Artist, from Neurodiversity, 21 February [online], Available at [Accessed: 27 November 2013]
• (image source; site not yet live)

Last updated : 27-Nov-2013

This article was produced by South African History Online on 16-Mar-2011

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