|Helen Elizabeth Martins is considered South Africa's foremost Outsider Artist or Raw Art|
Helen Martins was born on 23 December 1897 in Nieu Bethesda, 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.
Helen Martins whose nickname was "Miss Helen" in 1964 employed Koos Malgas, who happens 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 was given praise and attention through her work but as time progressed, and derision and suspicion grew within the village, she became increasingly reclusive. Miss Helen was not taking care of herself and as time, arthritis, and the arduous nature of her undertaking took its toll on her physique, she became increasingly shy of her appearance and took great pains to avoid seeing people in the street.
The friends that she had, however, describe her as an intensely passionate person who became particularly animated and excited when discussing the latest ideas for her beloved creation. Miss Helen’s works of art using glass eventually caused her to lose her eyesight. In the winter of 1976, at the age of seventy-eight, she committed suicide by swallowing a mixture of caustic soda. Miss Helen was rushed to hospital in Graaff-Reinet, where she died three days later, on August 8, 1976, though her legacy continues to bring joy and wonder to many who visit her home.
|Owl House Helen Elizabeth Martins Outsider Artist|
Life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one.
To send light into the darkness of men's hearts, such is the duty of the artist.
An artist cannot fail; it is a success to be one.art🎔