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Nieu Bethesda

© Jennifer Stern© Jennifer SternThis really is a tiny little country town way off the beaten track, and it is only through an absolute quirk of fate that it ever became known at all. For it was here that the late Helen Martins, undoubtedly South Africa’s most celebrated outsider artist, lived, practised and left her legacy. The home in which she lived is now a museum called the Owl House. Filled with fantastic sculptures, painted in bright colours and covered in glass, every part of the house or garden was designed to capture and reflect light. The sculptures are mostly animals, but also include humans, and reflect Martins’ fascination with the East, and her fear of darkness. Ironically, her work with ground glass contributed to her blindness and subsequent suicide.

Nieu Bethesda is about 50 km from Graaff-Reinet, which is situated on the N9, which links the Garden Route town of George with the N1 at Colesberg, and hence to Johannesburg. Graaff-Reinet is about 300km from George and 800km from Johannesburg. Nieu Bethesda is about 30km from the N9 on an unpaved road.

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