The above short video shares the early stages of the transformation of Hollywood Forest in South County Carlow, Ireland, that has become “the little wood that could”.
There is no human dialogue, rather, the forest inhabitants will show you the changes. Hollywood forest began as a small conifer monoculture plantation like much of the world’s now dominant but damaging industrial forestry – Sitka Spruce trees from North America, were planted closely together in rows to be clear-felled after 40 years.
With guidance from professional foresters (from ProSilva Ireland), I and my husband undertook to make a permanent, biodiverse forest and learn how plantations could be transformed into new-to-Ireland continuous cover forests. I explored this ecological forestry alongside my deep interest in situated ecological art practices – practices that evolve collective stories for the better, more beautiful world we know is possible.
Update 2021: I now teach a unique ONLINE course – the Haumea Essential Ecoliteracy 7-week course – to help creatives and art professionals across the world understand the ecology emergency and what it means for the creative sector- see more here: please note, course places fill quickly, but I do maintain a waitlist. Thank you!
“The struggle of embracing our moment—is the struggle
that we live in the most destructive moment in 65 million years!”
Brian Swimme, Professor of Integral Studies and evolutionary philosopher,
The New Story, 2006
“There are opportunities even in the most difficult moments.”
Dr. Wangari Maathai, Nobel Peace Prize winner, first woman in Africa to get a Ph.D and Kenyan Green Belt Forest Movement Founder
Hello, I’m an Irish-based New Zealander living in rural Ireland since the late 1990s. My creative work is a response to ecosocial concerns arising from environmental emergency.
ecosocial artist | ecoliteracy educator | researcher
Kia Ora– Hello! My name is Cathy Fitzgerald, and I’m an Irish-based New Zealander living in rural Ireland, the home of my ancestors these past 20 years.
Since the late 1990s, I have been inspired by the emergent art and ecology field in visual culture, and later, more specifically in contemporary ecological art practice and research.
My forest ecosocial art inspiration comes from my early career in research science which connects to my intuition that I sensed as a child– that there is inexplicable power and magic in art. I was blessed too, growing up in Aotearoa New Zealand – I’ve long been inspired by its pristine, stunningly beautiful, bird-filled forests.
I am best know for the ongoing ecological art practice The Hollywood Forest Story (begun in 2008), the story of the ‘little wood that could’ that I live with in South County Carlow Ireland – the story told on this blog about the efforts to transform the monoculture conifer plantation myself, my husband, live within, to a beautiful, permanent and productive, multispecies, birdfilled forest.
I am also know for founding the worldfirst Haumea online Essential Ecoliteracy Course Programme for Creative Professionals. That story is shared at Haumea.ie
Highlights from the Hollywood Forest Story…
My ongoing ‘slow art’ practice The Hollywood Forest Story (begun in 2008) is inspired by the small conifer plantation community that I live with, in south County Carlow, Ireland. I am passionate about new permanent, mixed species forestry as an urgent and necessary alternative to the ecocide of industrial clearfell monoculture forestry that is the predominant forestry practised in Ireland and many parts of the world.
My creative practice is a transversal activity in which I combine knowledge from art and non-art disciplines with real-world insights.
- My resulting ecosocial art practice (my term for ‘ecological art’) involves me exploring, practising new-to-Ireland, Close-to-Nature continuous cover forestry, creating experimental films, writing, absorbing new eco-philosophy ideas, and taking part in national forest policy development and ecocide law advocacy.
- Over time, my creative practice has developed my ecoliteracy and confidence to speak up for life-sustaining ecological forestry. In 2012: I helped get new-to-Ireland continuous cover forestry as the key point in the new Irish Green Party Forest policy;
- In 2013 and in 2020: I successfully argued that the Green Party of Ireland and Northern Ireland recognise that a crime of ecocide (the long term destruction of ecosystems by man) be supported in international law. I am an Earth Protector for the Stop Ecocide international movement;
- In 2018: I successfully received my PhD by Creative Practice, for my research The Ecological Turn: Living Well with Forests: articulating eco-social art practice…” this work continues to inform The Hollywood Forest Story and Carlow’s Drummin Bog Project Art programme and my teaching and research.
- 2019-ongoing: I became the first Irish signatory for the global Culture Declares an Emergency movement and began research the Earth Charter (2000). In response, and knowing we have little time, I founded Haumea Ecoliteracy Services for the Arts online course and programme to equip creatives across the world with essential ecoliteracy for their professional creative work (this work has been featured on: Lyric FM, Our ThrivingTribes, AwakenHub, Green Foundation Ireland).
- 2020 – I received an Arts Council Professional Development Award to undertake the 6-month accredited Education for Sustainability course during 2021, hosted through Earth Charter International, at the UN Univ. for Peace, in Costa Rica. UNESCO has re-endorsed the global peoples’ Earth Charter as the values framework for engaging and guiding civil society towards implementing the UN SDGs in inclusive and ethical ways..
- 2021 – I began the Haumea Ecoculture Podcast with my philosopher collaborator, Dr Nikos Patedakis
- Routledge Handbook of Placemaking 2021 ‘The Hollywood Forest Story: Placemaking for the Symbiocene’ May 19, 2021
- For Chrysalis Arts UK: Cathy Fitzgerald on ECOSOCIAL (ECOLOGICAL) ART IN PRACTICE May 19, 2021
- ‘Dear Dandelion’ – Polly Higgin’s legacy to prevent ecocide grows April 6, 2021
- Help Hold Our Breath for 2040: Call to Global Creative Community to Envision Earth as Forest February 23, 2021
- New ecosocial art practice book–: ‘Creative Engagements with Ecologies of Place’ and guest talk by Iain Biggs February 11, 2021
The video (below) commemorates some of the key stages of The Hollywood Forest Story over the last decade, with a nod to Rachel Carson’s seminal environmental book Silent Spring.
What others are saying:
The Symbiocene, as a period in the history of humanity on this Earth, will be characterized by the human intelligence and praxis that replicate the symbiotic and mutually reinforcing life-reproducing forms and processes found in living systems. This period of human existence will be a positive affirmation of life, and it offers the possibility of the complete reintegration of the human body, psyche, and culture with the rest of life… As with solastalgia, contemporary artists have been inspired by the Symbiocene to negate the Anthropocene. The artists Jenny Brown in Australia and Cathy Fitzgerald in Ireland have both delivered powerful responses to this relatively new idea.
Glenn A. Albrecht (2019) Earth Emotions: New Words for a New World, Chapter 4
Steve Rust, co-editor of
Ecocinema Theory and Practice, 14 February 2013
“Dear Cathy, From our perspective, very good work.”
Helen and Newton Harrison, 24 January 2011
‘Thank you so much for your fantastic videos. They are deeply moving in their simplicity. The videos are very moving, – a very clear way of communicating this huge catastrophe on an intimate scale ‘
Kevin Buckland, Art Ambassador, 350.org, October 2010
See the summary video-reel of videos I have created over the years below.