Helen Martins – AKA my Senior Year History Task

Hello friends! Today I’d like to (as a part of my History assignment) share some things about Helen Martins with you.urBriefly: Helen Martins was a crazy, glass-crushing-glass-eating-glass-sculpting-outsider-artist-with-no-baby-toes from Nieu Bethesda is South Africa AND SHE WAS WONDERFUL.

Miss Helen herself.

In more detail:

Between the years of 1941 and 1945, Helen Martins began the intense decorative project that consumed her until her gruesome caustic soda induced suicide in 1976. She began to “express the brightness around [her]” by using the materials at her disposal – cement, wire and coloured glass- to transform her dull and limited reality into a world that she saw fit to live in. Helen created the now famous Owl House and camel yard of Nieu Bethesda in from a desire to create a world defined by light, colour and symbolism. She created her own world.

The Owl House today.

(feel free to drop me an email if you’d like to read my project!)

 All in all, the essence of the project is to create a monument, or memorial of some sorts. In South Africa recently we have had much debate about what monuments are important, who should be commemorated, where these monumenets should be and whether they are still relevant. It seems as though statues are losing their place in our society. I decided to create (or conceptualise, rather) a bridge, for these reasons:

Bridges usually serve the purpose of connecting two places, and in my opinion Helen Martins was the bridge between the fantastic, magical world that she created, and the reality in which the rest of us live. Hence, my belief that a bridge would be an appropriate way to remember her.

Part of the Camel Yard

The bridge is located in a fairly busy area and provides a moment of seclusion, similar to those that Helen so enjoyed. It is fenced in on all but one side, to emphasise the trapping nature of solitude, but also the soothing and gentle products of some “alone time” in a world as busy as ours.

I think that the bridge, being interactive, is (1) more accessible to the wider public [like history should be] and (2) really able to be appreciated more. As an act of sculpture (of sorts) to remember a scultptor, and because of the intentions and purposes of the bridge, I honestly love to create something like this one day.

I invite you to look up Helen Martins – do your research on the finest creator of Outsider Art that South Africa had the pleasure to play home to. Again, please send me an email if you’d like some information on her or the full progression of my project!

In essence, this project was a joy to do – I got the chance to dabble in the late 1800s and early 1900s and I guess it’s just things like that that tickle my history nerd fancy.

Today, I leave you with a quote from Miss Helen herself:

 “…we must live our lives passionately and to the full…life with its happenings flashes past my eyes so quickly”

Love and light,

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