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.
“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 eco-social concerns arising from environmental emergency.
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 eco-social 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 succeeded in getting continuous cover forestry as the key point in the new Irish Green Party Forest policy and 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 (2013).
The video (above) collates short videos I have created during my ongoing, now eleven-year-old Hollywood forest transformation work. Over the years, I have noticed the increasing diversity of the dawn chorus at Hollywood forest as the forest becomes more beautiful, diverse and resilient. It struck one day that my creative practice is a modest attempt to respond to Rachel Carson’s seminal environmental book Silent Spring (1962).
In 2018, I successfully received my PhD by Creative Practice, for my research ‘Living Well with Forests: articulating eco-social art practice…”
In 2019, as I have long believed and researched that cultural has a critical role to empower society toward an ecological age, I became the first Irish signatory for the global Culture Declares an Emergency movement.
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.