Artist’s statement for my ecosocial art practice: The Hollywood Forest Story

Hollywood, a Close-to-Nature continuous cover forest growing under the Blackstairs Mountains, South County Carlow, Ireland. It is also the muse and site of my long-term (since 2008), transversal eco-social art practice.
Hollywood, a Close-to-Nature continuous cover forest growing under the Blackstairs Mountains, South County Carlow, Ireland. It is the muse and site of my long-term (since 2008), transversal ecosocial art practice. (Photo: Martin Lyttle, 2015)
See relevant posts on the Hollywood Forest Story below this statement.

Over the last decade, I have developed an ongoing creative practice-led ecosocial art practice called The Hollywood Forest Story. 

In my ecosocial art practice, I weave diverse lifeworld experiences and disciplinary knowledge to re-think alternatives to extractive land practices, in this case unsustainable and life-limiting monoculture, clearfell forestry – the industrial forestry model that colonization introduced across the world.

I increasingly view holistic ecosocial (ecological) art practice as a form of transformative learning.

Such embedded-in-place integrated ecosocial art practice practitioners have pioneered crucial restorative projects between communities and their places. Against the hubris of the human-centric artworld,and  on the margins of the contemporary art world since the early 1970s, ecological artists have gathered much insights in the paradigm shift urgently needed across global Education for Sustainable Development (ESD).

These recent insights have developed from an Irish Arts council award in 2020 that allowed me to study ESD through the ecopedagogy of the Earth Charter and my ongoing collaboration with eco-aesthetic oriented philosopher Dr Nikos Patedakis (California). See my new 2021 Haumea Online ESD-Earth Charter integrated ecosocial values course here.

About The Hollywood Forest Story

Many people have inspired my ecocultural work since the late 90s when I arrived in the home of my ancestors from Aotearoa New Zealand. Irish-based Forest and environmental mentors, Jan Alexander and Noel Kiernan from Crann, the wise teaching of Dr Paul O’Brien (formerly National College of Art & Design, Ireland) and great ecothinkers like Wendell Berry’s ‘good forest economy writings’ that I read in the late 90s, still resonate in my work today.

Geotheologian Thomas Berry’s advocacy that the dominant culture is in urgent need of ‘New Story‘ to advance an ecological and just era, key and transformative educators like Joanna Macy, the extraordinary compassionate wisdom ecophilosophy of Nikos Patedakis, along with the wise ecological forestry of Prof Suzanne Simard have long fed my interest that there is much we can all do to live differently, live wisely with and for the larger Earth community. And if we learn how to live well with the most complex ecosystems on Earth – forests – we can gain an essential ecoliteracy that has been overlooked in education in the dominant culture.

My ‘slow art’ practice, the Hollywood Forest Story, is inspired by the small conifer plantation community that I live with, in County Carlow, Ireland. In this ongoing work, I undertake actions to transform this monoculture conifer plantation to co-create a flourishing and permanent, mixed-species forest and transform my and others learning for a better world. The Hollywood Forest Story was featured in the Irish Times, March 2020).

My ecosocial practice, with my practice-led doctoral research at the National College of Art & Design, Ireland (The Ecological Turn: Living Well with Forests… to explain ecosocial art practice, Fitzgerald 2018), arose from various life experience in art, science, alternative forestry and Green politics that arose in this work. You can see the illustrated AV Hollywood Forest Story eBook that I submitted for my PhD here – its was mentioned in The Irish Times in 2020 and can be downloaded from iBooks here.

Ecosocial Art Practices foster ecoliteracy and agency for change in practitioners and their audiences: ecosocial practice, following Guattari’s ecosophy– are forms of micro-political resistance.

My practice involves and is informed by: exploring, learning and implement new-to-Ireland, Close-to-Nature continuous cover forestry management (an alternative to monoculture, clearfell forestry) with professional foresters and other landowners, experimental film-making, writing, eco-philosophy and ecocriticism reflections, national forest policy development and ecocide law advocacy.

With confidence gained I have stood up to argue for better forestry for the forest I live with, for Irish and forests everywhere! This led me to unexpectedly during my doctoral studies to help get ‘continuous cover forestry’ introduced as the key point in the new Irish Green Party Forest policy (2012). I have also worked hard to promote successful motions supported by the members of the Green Party of Ireland and Northern Ireland that the crime of Ecocide (the long term destruction of ecosystems by man) be supported in international law (2013, 2020).

Inspiring ecosocial art restoration everywhere

While I never expect my small project to inspire others, I found blogging as a creative method the perfect means to curate my ongoing ecosocial art practice and develop audiences near and far. This approach enables me to collate diverse creative and forest activities as a motivating story on www.hollywoodforest.com  to diverse local and online audiences and share inspiration for other restorative projects elsewhere. My blog practice became the emergent cultural artefact for my AV ebook for my PhD – which successfully argued a new framework to explain ecosocial art practice.

Overall, my ongoing ecosocial art practice envisions a way to ‘softly subvert’* the stranglehold of industrial forestry so that we can envision ways to live well with forests in perpetuity.

My work contributes to the Symbiocene not the atrocities and ignorance of the Anthropocene

I also see my practice as a meme for the Symbiocene (Albrecht, 2016, 2019** – see my posts below) rather than the ecocide of the Anthropocene, as it emphasises ideas and practices to enhance the mutual flourishing of all life.

In 2019, my struggles to develop and articulate my ecosocial practice, even with my background in research science, has propelled me to teach others in the cultural sector

In 2019, recognising the lack of access to ecological knowledge in the creative sector, I and collaborators, have developed a worldfirst online ecoliteracy course for art professionals at https://haumea.ie (my thanks to the Carlow Local Enterprise Office and the Carlow Office for their early and crucial support)

In 2021, I began a cohosted podcast series The Haumea ecoculture podcast, which is available on leading podcast directories and developed a new Haumea Online ESD-Earth Charter course, for all adult learners

See key posts since 2008 on The Hollywood Forest Story here:

___________________________

Recent and relevant posts/news from The Hollywood Forest Story are below:

_____________________________

*A term used by Felix Guattari
** Albrecht, Glenn (2016) ‘Exiting the Anthropocene and Entering the Symbiocene.’ Minding Nature, 9 (2), 12-16.

Save

Save