See relevant posts on the Hollywood Forest Story below this statement.
Over the last decade, I have developed an ongoing creative practice-led eco-social 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 eco-social art practice practitioners have pioneered crucial restorative projects between communities and their places. Against the hubris of the human-centric art world, and on the margins of the contemporary art world since the early 1970s, ecological artists have gathered many 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 Haumea Online ESD-Earth Charter integrated eco-social values course here.
About The Hollywood Forest Story
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.
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 eco thinkers 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 a ‘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 has 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 eco-social 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 experiences 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: eco-social 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 eco-social 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 eco-social 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 eco-social 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 eco-social 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 world-first 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 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:
- Stories for a Wiser Forestry – arguing for the “right forestry practice in the right place”: Edinburgh Botanic Gardens with Creative Carbon Scotland March 27, 2023
- A testimonial for wee Hollywood Forest and the slow art of CCF – continuous cover forestry January 27, 2023
- Learning from The Hollywood Forest Story in new EcoArt in Action handbook June 14, 2022
- No Man’s Land: Art & The Rights of Nature – Burren College Exhibition & Symposia — June 13, 2022
- ‘The Hollywood Forest Story’ showcased in Creative Carbon Scotland’s Library of Creative Sustainability May 30, 2022
- 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
- Earth Writings: Irish ecosocial art practices with Bogs, Forest, Fields, Gardens February 9, 2021
- South Carlow schools’ ‘An Fraughan’ Drummin Bog book celebrates World Wetland Day and UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration February 8, 2021
- Whose Woods These Are: Wendell Berry’s A Good Forest economy–with Cathy Fitzgerald December 18, 2020
- ‘Reflecting again on Wendell Berry’s– ‘the forest is the basis of a culture’ December 17, 2020
- Speaking with Megan Best Dublin City FM on Why Ecoliteracy Matters for the Creative Sector November 15, 2020
- Further steps in Ireland to help end ecocide October 9, 2020
- Exploring Eco-Social Art Strategies in Qualitative Research and EcoArt – Scandinavia June 29, 2020
- Plasticity of the Planet: Environmental Challenge for Art and Its Institutions–for the Symbiocene June 14, 2020
- ‘The Battle of Moytura Or The Battle for the Soul of Ireland’:- why ecoliteracy for the arts is essential now May 13, 2020
- The Hollywood Forest Story in Ireland, Aotearoa New Zealand and The Irish Times March 7, 2020
- The first decade of The Hollywood Forest Story January 31, 2020
- “A revolution in how we live? An interdisciplinary workshop on creative approaches to education for environmental understanding and responsibility” on peatlands. December 6, 2019
- My first Essential Ecoliteracy for Creative Workers and Educators Workshop in Co. Carlow, with Lyric FM November 13, 2019
- The Hollywood Forest Story—Eco-Social Art Practice for the Symbiocene: a new article for US Minding Nature journal November 11, 2019
- #FridayArt4Emergency: The Carole Nelson Trio – ‘Arboreal’ -the Album! October 11, 2019
- Good-Bye Anthropocene – Hello Symbiocene! May 10, 2019
- Cultural Climates: Fostering Art for Sustainability – Time for a New Cultural Policy? Moore Institute, Galway May 3, 2019
- Art.Earth artist of the month Cathy Fitzgerald and The Hollywood Forest Story: an ongoing eco-social art practice for permanent forestry in Ireland and elsewhere May 1, 2019
- PhD by Practice – The Ecological Turn: Living Well with forests to explain eco-social art practices November 21, 2018
- The Hollywood Forest Story eBook- as featured in the Irish Times – is on iTunes February 12, 2018