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Monday, April 2, 2012

The Owl House Helen Elizabeth Martins Outsider Artist

The Owl House Helen Elizabeth Martins is considered South Africa's foremost Outsider Artist or Raw Art

Helen Martins was born on 23 December 1897 in Nieu Bethedsa, a small and isolated Karoo village in South Africa's Eastern Cape. Helen Martins was the youngest of six children. She earned a teaching degree after attending school in Graaff-Reinet which is the fourth oldest town in South Africa. In 1919 she moved to the Transvaal to begin working as a teacher. Transvaal is the land north of the Vaal River in modern-day South Africa.

Photo by Niko Knigge
Helen Martins whose nickname was "Miss Helen" in 1964 employed Koos Malgas, who happen to be black, to help her make the cement and glass statues which fill her house, the Owl House and her surrounding land called Camel Yard. This was very controversial in the apartheid era of South Africa. Miss Helen’s works of art using glass eventually caused her to lose her eye sight and commit suicide. 

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