The Ecological Turn: Living Well with Forests
To Articulate Eco-Social Art Practices
Using a Guattari Ecosophy and Action Research Framework
Read the full thesis here: https://ncad.academia.edu/CathyFitzgerald
Read the accompanying audiovisual ebook here
Cathy Fitzgerald, PhD, Visual Culture
Dr Paul O’Brien, National College of Art & Design, Ireland (retired)
Dr Iain Biggs, Bath Univ., UK. Environmental Humanities Fellow
Prof. Jessica Hemmings, Former Head of Visual Culture, National College of Art & Design, Ireland
Internal examiner: Prof. Siún Hanrahan, Head of Academic Affairs, National College of Art & Design, Ireland
External examiner: Prof. Richard Povall, Dartington College, Devon, UK.
I wish to thank my supervisors Dr. Paul O’Brien, Dr. Iain Biggs and Professor Jessica Hemmings for their experience, guidance, trust and good humour in supporting my research and practice journey. I thank my family, Martin Lyttle and Holly, Mary and Michael Dawson, Joan and Bruce, Alannah and Karine and many friends who have supported me constantly. I would also like to thank Jan Alexander for the inspiration behind my forest work, the Pro Silva Ireland continuous cover forestry committee, and Dr. Michael Lee and Dr. Rhys Jones for steering me so well in my journeys between the shores of art and science. Thanks also to Prof. Tara Brabazon and the late Prof. Steve Redhead; your podcasts, enthusiasm and knowledge of what constitutes excellence in doctoral scholarship supported my work in countless ways. As my work is a transversal endeavour, I acknowledge many more contributions from many fields in The Hollywood Forest Story eBook. Most importantly, I acknowledge Hollywood forest and all who reside there.
I dedicate this work to my late mother, Mary Cowie Fitzgerald Dawson, thanking her for the countless, joyful ways she supported me through life and to the memory of my late father, Kevin Fitzgerald.
Interested in doing a creative phd?
I’m often asked what this experience was like? Why did I do an Art-led Creative PhD?
For me, I knew that as beyond the PhD I wanted to relate to my creative, non-academic peers that pursuing an Art-led practice PhD was paramount – this was because I knew there was an imperative to share ecological knowledge across the art sector. My background in science made me sense that I could ‘frame’ my art and ecology practice as having value for my doctoral arguments. But presenting a practice-research, art-ecology doctoral study was easier said than done – particularly when doctoral-level research still largely retains a single discipline focus.
In fact, I was encouraged to do a theory-only PhD on several occasions, as been a less risky propistion. However, I knew that I wouldn’t have the motivation to continue if I couldn’t bring my practice into my research. I also had a preference for digital means of communication!
I struggled for some time about best to present all of this as valid research. My practice supervisor Iain Biggs was instrumental in giving me confidence that my practice could further knowledge.
But a defining moment for my doctoral studies was when a colleague told me about the work of Australian Professor Tara Brabazon. Tara had co-authored research that clearly delineates how creative practice can be used as evidence to advance doctoral arguments and she clearly warned creatives of the dangers of relying on value judgments of art for PhDs. But there was more than this proposition on what constitutes the best in Creative Practice research.
Tara is a legend in revitalising higher education with extraordinary professionalism for herself, for doctoral students and supervisors. She furthers knowledge in many fields across the arts and humanities, tech and science fields in advancing best practice for doctoral education across the world. She opened up her PhD tutorials with students in her often entertaining podcasts and with her late husband Prof Steve Redhead treaded topics of theory.
and vlogs sustained and emboldened my work like nothing else. It’s why I acknowledged them both in my PhD dedication. I always suggest Tara’s vlogs and podcasts