“Our ocean is sacred, you can’t mine heaven” was a recent slogan seen on placards held by people protesting against seismic surveys and ocean oil and gas exploration along the South African West and East coast. Over the past year greater traction and public interest and advocacy against the rush for minerals and oil and gas in the sea, has, in its own way, created a new public conversation around ocean heritages, cultures, and livelihoods deeply entangled and related to the Ocean.

This exhibition is a multi-genre audio-visual storytelling project, that shares some of the rich cultural artefacts resurfacing and in some cases emerging as new contemporary reflections of South African ocean culture. The exhibition debuts a new tapestry from the Keiskamma Art Project and the One Ocean Hub Deep Fund project. It launches two new short films from the Empatheatre collective (recently included as evidence in the seismic court cases), a new album and oral histories project by the International Library of African Music: “songs of the Sea”, as well as a photographic exhibition from the Coastal Justice Network, and crochet coral installation from the Woodstock Art Reef Project.


Rhodes Red Foyer, Rhodes University Drama Department



23 June – 03 July


The ‘Our Ocean is Sacred, you Can’t Mine Heaven’ exhibition has emerged through collaborative curation, between Boudina McConnachie, Dylan McGarry, Michaela Howse & Luke Kaplan.
The collaboration includes:

Boudina McConnachie
Dylan McGarry

Photographic Exhibition
Luke Kaplan
Kelly Daniels
Case Pratt
Jacki Bruniquel

Songs of the Ocean
Woodstock Art Reef Project: Abundance
Keiskamma Art Project

The “Our Ocean is Sacred, You Can’t Mine Heaven” exhibition has been funded by the One Ocean Hub’s DEEP FUND, The Coastal Justice Network, the Environmental Learning Research Centre (ELRC) and the National Arts Festival (NAF).


The ‘Our Ocean is Sacred, you Can’t Mine Heaven’ exhibition has emerged through collaborative curation, between Boudina McConnachie, Dylan McGarry, Michaela Howse & Luke Kaplan. The collaboration includes:

Keiskamma Art Project
The Keiskamma Art Project is part of the greater Keiskamma Trust, a South African not-for-profit organization dedicated to the holistic care of the communities that live in the area alongside the Keiskamma River in the Eastern Cape. The Trust began with a healing vision, to restore hope and dignity to people with very few resources, living at the precipice of change. It was founded in 2000 by artist and doctor, Carol Hofmeyr. Today the Keiskamma Art Project, the flagship of the greater Trust, works to maintain its founder’s vision, providing vital livelihoods through dignified work, while communicating, through art, the reality of rural lives affected by both poverty and history.

Woodstock Art Reef Project: Abundance
Abundance is a coral reef-like installation created by the The Woodstock Art Reef Project, Cape Town. WARP is a community art project with a critical ocean literacy, exploring the wellbeing and survival of coral reef communities, and how understanding the nature of symbiosis and community within coral reefs, lends us to understanding community and relationality in human communities. The WARP Abundance reef has been in the making for over a decade, where individuals from all walks of life have crocheted each individual coral artwork using a method of hyperbolic crochet. The South African reef is a satellite of the world wide Crochet Coral Project created by Margaret and Christine Wertheim of the Institute For Figuring in Los Angeles. WARP is led by Maria Van Gass and Leonie Hofmery-Juritz, and emerged at Greatmore Studios, Woodstock, Cape Town. Since then it has travelled South Africa, and now arrives for a return visit to Makhanda and the National Arts Festival.

Abundance Home

Songs of the Ocean
Songs of the Ocean is the first in a series of podcasts where, through the lens of music, we delve into South African’s relationships with water, seas and oceans. In this podcast (presented in both Xhosa and English) we look at how the amaXhosa view the ocean and how important it is to spirituality, health and livelihoods. The series was conceptualised and created by Boudina McConnachie with Elijah Madiba, Bongani Diko, Dumisa Mpupha, Nombasa Maqoko, Vuyelwa Moyo and produced by Kuhle Ngqezana.

Dylan McGarry
Dylan McGarry (PhD) is an educational sociologist, scholar activist and artist from Durban, South Africa. He is a senior researcher at the Environmental Learning Research Centre (ELRC) at the University currently known as Rhodes. As well as the South African Director of the Global One Ocean Hub research network. Dylan is the co-founder of Empatheatre, and a passionate artist and story-teller. He explores practice-based research into connective aesthetics, transgressive social learning, decolonial practice, queer-eco pedagogy, immersive empathy, African spirituality and intangible hertiage in South Africa. His artwork and social praxis (which is closely related to his research) is particularly focused on empathy, and he primarily works with imagination, listening and intuition as actual sculptural materials in social settings to offer new ways to encourage personal, relational and collective agency.


Boudina McConnachie
Boudina McConnachie (PhD, PGCE, RULS) is an African musical arts activist and ethnomusicologist with a particular interest in musical arts pedagogy and ecomusicology. She co-ordinates various music education courses through the Rhodes University Education department and is integrally involved in the teaching and learning programme at the International Library of African Music (ILAM). Boudina plays the uhadi, mbira and various African percussive instruments as well as the classical flute but strives to use sound production in everything she does. She is the co-producer of the podcast series African Music Activists and co-ordinates the educational podcast Afroloops. Boudina believes that sound is a key sense and promotes creative sonic approaches to knowledge dissemination.

Photographic Exhibition
Luke Kaplan is an artist and photographer based in Makhanda, South Africa, whose practice concerns itself with landscape and history, in particular how people, through interaction and through time, form an identity with the natural world in which they move.

Kelly Daniels is a photographer based in Durban South Africa, and explores themes of family, connection and relationality with the natural world, her recent series explores spirituality and the Ocean.

Case Pratt is a KZN photographer who explores the intersection between conservation and human life, and where these intersect in complex ways. She explores photography a means for visual storytelling, nostalgia, art and most importantly emotion.

Jacki Bruniquel is a South African Photographer, who is best known for her distinctive portraits and emotional storytelling, recently she has become a freediver, and begun working on a series entitled ‘People and Sea’, opening up conversations with people of South Africa, and understanding their relationship with the Ocean.