The Owl House, South Africa

The Owl House, South Africa © Andy Carter

A blue-eyed figure stands, palms outstretched, on the back of a four-legged owl creature. Hundreds of fantastical beings, animals and biblical figures seem strangely alive in the confined yard space, although they’re cast in concrete.

The Owl House is a museum in the Karoo town of Nieu-Bethesda, and once home to artist Helen Martins. The interior is designed to reflect light at different hours, with mirrors and wall patterns of crushed glass. The exterior Camel Yard is made up of the unusual sculptures and relief figures, including many owl statuettes.

Martins began to work on the Owl House in 1945, and pursued her vision until she committed suicide in 1976. In 1989, the Owl House was declared a national monument, and is now a famously peculiar tourist attraction.

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