For the last 25 years of her life, Helen Martins dedicated herself to creating strange and wonderful sculptures from pieces of wire, concrete, glass and a vision that shocked the neighbors of her small village in South Africa.
Eking out a living from the small pension of her late husband, Martins painstakingly formed a fanciful world of owls and camels, of wise men and mermaids which seemed to sustain her. She created hundreds of these glittering objects, many of them larger than humans, and placed them throughout her house and in her yard.
All of her sculptures faced east.
Her work alienated her fellow villagers in New Bethesda, located in the Karoo region of South Africa between Capetown and Johannesburg. However it inspired South African playwright Athol Fugard to write "The Road to Mecca," the story of the friendship between Martins and a young teacher who became fascinated with her work.