Progress happens everywhere – Nieu Bethesda

This was not my first time in Nieu Bethesda but i couldn’t help feel that this might be my last.



I have wondered the streets of this little rural hamlet before, and been captivated by its old world charm, lack of progress and its tucked away in a valley for the world to drive by nature, but this time i could not but help feel slightly jaded by the signs of progress creeping in.

Old school

Old school

A shop has opened, the internet is available, there seem to be more places to stay and more places to eat. Everywhere, signs proclaim a chance to spend your money.

So named

So named

At the Owl House, which is an inevitable visit whether you have been a million times before also revealed the creeping signs of progress.

Yea i felt like he does

Yea i felt like he does

Restorations has seen new layers of concrete on some of the sculptures, and from my hazy memory some sculptures are no longer there replaced by newer and different versions sucking the integrity from this monument to the demented.

Some things haven't changed

Some things haven’t changed

After a trip to the local Sneeuberge micro-brewery not even their delicious beer and salami could erase the jaded sense that i had been here one too many times before.



Don’t let this post stop you from visiting, Nieu Bethesda is definitely worth a visit and i guess progress is inevitable, it’s just a shame it didn’t bypass this little village.

View the photostory here


Nieu-Bethesda is a village in the Eastern Cape at the foot of the Sneeuberge, approximately 50 kilometres from Graaff Reinet. Home to the world renowned Owl House and the Sneeuberg Micro – Brewery

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4 Responses

  1. Huldah van Wyk says:

    A Pity an uninformed opinion and false accusations were posted as ‘facts’ about the Owl House and restoration there. It is an ongoing battle to keep the yard and house from falling apart in the harsh climate. No statues are removed or replaced with others. Restoration work is done with the utmost care and reference to archive photos.

    • stu says:

      Hi Huldah, I posted no facts just stated that from my hazy memory, an opinion, that there appear to be changes, I can definitely recall some of the statues I shot in previous years not being there. And while in a way understand the need for “restoration” it’s hard to argue that that the original is not being altered. For the worse in my opinion.

  2. Brian Peters says:

    Stu, you have very blindly ignored Huldah’s comment that restoration is done with reference to archive photos, which predate even your first visit. I am quite aware that the Owl House Foundation has gone to great lengths to secure photographs of the original statues, and restores them to the same colour as painted by Helen Martin. Your comment “that its hard to argue that the original is not being altered” is both factually incorrect and malicious. Pity that you must find it trendy to slur the good work and integrity of people like Huldah and the Owl House staff and volunteers.

  3. stu says:


    Thanks for your comment.

    I am sure all efforts are made to keep the restoration as ‘true’ to the original and i am sure Huldah is dedicated and true to the cause. What you appear to have missed, is my point – that i feel the restoration is ruining it.

    I never stated it was factual – i offered an opinion, one which i stand by, the textures is gone, as is the old and weathered feel. It has been changed to reflect a sparkling new made in 2013 look which i feel detracts from the original artwork.

    My intention was never to be malicious, nor i might add trendily slur as you so quaintly put it anyones work or integrity. It was to relate the experience of my visit this time round, one which was detracted from by the layers of new concrete that you call ‘restoration’ and i opined was ‘sucking the integrity from this monument to the demented.’

What say you?