New to Ireland in 1996, my first environmental art practice came from my work at the Crann Leitrim office, in Mohill, Co. Leitrim.
In 1997, I wrote the text and completed original illustrations of rare Irish native hedgerow shrubs and trees for a Crann (re-leafing Ireland) Hedgerow Awareness project I was working on with Noel Kieran, Neil Foulkes and John Matthews. Co-author and forester, Noel Kiernan’s extensive ecological knowledge of Irish forests and sustainable forestry played an enormous part in bringing this calendar together as he collected the specimens I drew.
All illustrations were in ball-point pen, and the calendar proved so popular that it went into a second edition.
I’ve never lost my interest in forests and trees since this project – somehow it’s my link to the forests I miss back in Aotearoa/New Zealand.
Note the cover illustrations are not mine but are from very old childrens’ Ladybird books.
Strands that continue from this work
In 1997, I was awarded an ESB Environmental Endeavour award for my work on this project
In 2005-6, I returned to Leitrim and undertook a commission for The Dock and Crann to create a film and solo exhibition to celebrate Crann’s 20th anniversary and the planting of over 300 acres of broadleaved forests in the area by local people 13 years earlier. See the Local Project revisited for more details
Author John McGahern was one of the first people to be involved in this, the largest community forest planting project supported by the Irish Forest Service in the mid 1980s.
In 2008, I invited Jan Alexander, Crann founder and my longtime forest mentor and friend to help launch the first training workshop for my Hollywood Forest Story work.
Late 2020, I was invited by The Dock to talk about writing that inspires my ecocultural forest work – you can see my recorded talk and reflections in these two posts for the wonderful Tree TV Online Festival: