I have always had an affinity for misfits and alternative people. I call them the tribe. I am drawn particularly to the ones who take their “differences” and express them in art and creations, who connect us with that “other world”, who have the courage to be different.
I started going to the Owl House in Nieu Bethesda in the early 90’s. I always thought Helen Martins was part of that tribe. It screams at you as soon as you catch sight of the double faced owl that towers on the arch entrance which is solemnly fenced off and protected by a row of cacti.
The Karoo is desolate and grandiose, it’s “one man’s heaven and another man’s hell”. The valley of desolation is one of those places where you have that strange mix of insignificance and feeling connected to this old mother earth.
I once wrote and recorded a song about the valley: “Eagle dream“.
Visiting Miss Helen’s Owl House has always been a profound experience for me and I knew that one day inspiration would strike.
Last December I took a trip there with friends and was amazed at how busy Nieu Bethesda has become. How much interest the Owl house has generated. Miss Helen’s work is not alone anymore.
I filmed and took photos without any cohesive plan.
Then I returned again in March and this time the owl house was empty and silent… and suddenly Miss Helen’s world screamed at me.
A few days later the guitar played and an Am chord followed by an Am sus2 with F bass progression and the words tumbled out. This song has been there for a long time, it just hadn’t found the door yet.
If you have never been to the Karoo, or if Helen Martins’ art is not your thing, it will probably make little sense, but the song is not just about that…
“This is my world” is about that inner strength, that thing that drives creation and the need to express it. That energy that makes you break out of the mould and be yourself. It’s about the darkness and the light, the mountains and the valleys. It’s about daring to be you and making that statement.
The song is a late inclusion on the Album “This is not a Stick“. It seemed fitting as a closing track.
I added a gallery of photographs (some are also used in the video), but the place goes far beyond photographs, a video or a song.