About Cathy Fitzgerald’s work

My most well known and ongoing eco-social art practice is The Hollywood Forest Story, begun in 2008. This work builds audience engagement using blogging and other social media to share the experiential and aesthetic qualities, and the real-world practice of transforming a monoculture tree plantation using new-to-Ireland continuous cover forestry practices in the small forest in which I live into a permanent, species-rich forest. In dialogue with leading Irish and European continuous cover foresters, policy-makers, philosophers, environmental writers, and members of my community, I communicate a new story of Ireland’s move to ecological forestry at http://www.hollywoodforest.com.

Previously I developed a solo exhibition The Local Project Revisited (2006) at The Dock, Carrick-on-Shannon which celebrated 25 years of the community broadleaf tree-planting NGO Crann, with Crann founder Jan Alexander. I developed an innovative participatory Art Council funded art and science residency with genetics Prof. Paula Murphy in the Zoology Dept at TCD during 2004-5. My work remains in the Zoology Dept at TCD on permanent display. I have also exhibited at the Royal College of Surgeons in 2005.

From 2007 to 2010, I was the inaugural ArtLinks Director helping to deliver professional development courses to creative practitioners across the South East which has given me insights to the struggles faced by artists to establish livelihoods and learning. In 2009, I was part of the UK RSA art and ecology network and attended the inaugural Culture | Futures summit held alongside the 2009 Copenhagen UN Climate Summit. In 2017, I was an NUIG Galway Moore Institute Visiting Fellow – The Tim Robinson Archive.

In 2018, I successfully defended a PhD by Practice, The Ecological Turn: Developing an Eco-Social Art Practice with Guattari’s Ecosophy and Action Research, National College of Art & Design, (NCAD): Supervisors: Dr Paul O’Brien (NCAD), Dr Iain Biggs (UK) and Prof. Jessica Hemmings (NCAD). I was fortunate to have Dr Richard Povall (Dartington, Devon Art & Ecology programme Director) as my external examiner.

In May 2018, I was invited by Dr. Karen Till and Prof. Gerry Kearns, Maynooth University, and Dr. Nessa Cronin, NUIG, to share my art and sustainability research and lead a workshop on the urgent need to develop art and sustainability policy for Ireland for the 2018 Irish Geography conference in Maynooth University. At an international cultural policy level, my research reveals that behavioural science, moral environmental philosophy and UNESCO, IFACCA and others recognise culture is the under-acknowledged 4th pillar to promote sustainability across civil society. Culture has immense social power to translate and localise environmental science so as to engage communities in diverse urban and rural regions about sustainability, in ways that are unavailable to science.

In 2019, I have been awarded a feasibility study grant from the Carlow Enterprise Board and a Carlow Arts Office Award to develop an innovative online course, and local seminars, on essential ecoliteracy for the arts. In recognition of growing up in beautiful inspiring Aotearoa New Zealand, I am developing these courses under the name of Haumea, the name of the earth goddess of the Pacific. In January 2019, I was delighted to be invited to teach the undergraduate art and ecology programme at the Burren College of art for the 2019 Spring semester.

In May 2019, I have been invited by Dr. Nessa Cronin, NUIG, to again present the findings of my art and sustainability policy research, ahead of the 2019 EUGeo conference. At this conference, I have been awarded a Conference Enrichment Fund – EUGEO/CIG 2019 bursary to present other research from my eco-social art practice: ‘Good-Bye Anthropocene – Hello Symbiocene: eco-social art practices for a new world’.