The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science.” – Albert Einstein, from “The World as I See It.”

There’s a collaborative exhibition focused on ocean sustainability that we’d urge you to see, and partly because it engages with the what Einstein calls the mysterious in a most beautiful way. It’s built around a subject that’s immensely close to many peoples’ hearts: our relationship with the natural world, and the creatures that inhabit it.

It’s called “Nothing Comes without its World”, and it’s curated by Dylan McGarry, in collaboration with the Two Oceans Aquarium Foundation. You’ll find it at Cloudigital Art, located at 74 Cardiff Street, The Old Foundry, from May 9.

The thinking underlying the exhibition can be summed up by a term coined by anthropologist and environmental philosopher Deborah Bird Rose: “shimmer”. In this context, “shimmer” refers to the connections between humans, animals and the environment – a dynamic interconnectedness that is characterised by unpredictability.

Though there are other beneficiaries, the exhibition’s primary goal is to raise funds for the Two Oceans Aquarium Foundation’s planned turtle hospital and environmental learning and research centre in Granger Bay. Turtles are amongst the oldest living things on earth, and have remained essentially unchanged through two major extinction-level events, and a number of smaller, localised extinction happenings. However, it is what humans are doing to the environment today – plastic pollution, climate change, industrial-scale harvesting of the oceans – that is challenging these special creatures as they’ve never before been challenged. Today, six of the world’s seven species of turtle are to some extent endangered. It’s in expanding current capacity to provide a sanctuary – to rescue, rehabilitate where possible, and set turtles free again – that the new Turtle Conservation Centre will fulfil a unique role along the African coast.

“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”
― Pablo Picasso

Art allows us to escape our thinking mind and enables a quality of meaning-making that fosters empathetic relationships between us and our world – a way to rise above everyday pragmatism and see things in all their beautiful, demanding complexity. In a way, art opens up ways for us to think and feel differently, in the same way that music or dance can, or even going into grand buildings like cathedrals or museums.

The title of the exhibition comes from the Donna Haraway quote, nothing comes without its world, which references the ecological complexity in which all living things operate. Humanity’s activities have made the turtles’ world that much more complex. But also, one intriguing thread to the exhibition is built around turtles’ “homing instinct” in terms of where they hatched: no matter how far they travel, turtles tend to return “home”. In the case of loggerhead and leatherback turtles, home is often a stretch of coastline along norther KwaZulu Natal, and this area – in all its cultural, ecological, social, spiritual and political complexity – has a spotlight cast on it.

To quote from the exhibition catalogue: “…As [hurt or stranded] turtles wash ashore, they are met with active and embodied care, compassionate marine wildlife rescuers give essential medical attention, love, radical hospitality and rehabilitation, nursing the turtles back to health. Their attentiveness and convivial warmth is exquisite to wit(h)ness, in a time where we face multi-species extension and a political ecological crisis. These acts of care are radical expressions of hope and love made visible. 

“Yet sometimes, understandably in their lament, when losing a sick turtle to plastic ingestion or human-related injury, a rescuer might cry out: ‘People are the problem!’ The reality is only some people are the problem, and much of the issues turtles are suffering from come from the 1% richest countries and communities. In reality, the efforts to save the turtles, and the climate is also a class struggle, visible and invisible. If we return to the wisdom of the turtles, in such a moment of crises and ecological grief, we realise that if turtles come with worlds, and if we are to care for them, we need to attend to the world they hatch in, the world they swim back to, their homeland. A place where ‘natal homing’ for Indigenous Zulu and Tsonga  people is not possible.”

There are therefore art pieces telling their story from Kosi Bay Carvers where the turtles come to lay their eggs, and from the Keiskamma Art Project, an area past which all hatchlings swim as they head out on their lifetime journey.

McGarry’s own work is part of the exhibition, along with that of Muzi Nomandla, Thania Peterson, Sujay Swami Sanan, Mbali Mtuli, Craig Foster, Tanya Poole, Robbie Rorich, Braam du Toit, and Traci Kwaai.

Please make the time to engage with this extraordinary view into a world we only partly understand.


There was a sneak preview of “Nothing Comes without its World” on 11 April 2024 on the occasion of the One Blue Heart Gala Dinner, where CloudDigital was a table sponsor. The dinner was arranged by the Two Oceans Aquarium Foundation, in collaboration with One&Only Cape Town; and the intention was to raise funds for the Turtle Conservation Centre. This blue carpet event celebrated our marine world and showcased zero-waste food, slow fashion, and mesmerising art. The other table sponsor to which we give our thanks, is FNB.

Turtles are the beneficiaries of One Blue Heart. The Turtle Conservation Centre at the Two Oceans Aquarium rescues, rehabilitates and releases turtles: to date, more than 1 000 turtles have been given a second chance and returned to the ocean after rehabilitation. One Blue Heart is committed to protecting and preserving their ancient legacy.

Artwork: Top. Dylan McGarry; below: Aaniyah Martin with The Mother Hydrorug,