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artful eco workings that cycle through: Close-to-Nature continuous cover forestry, experimental film-making, the eco-humanities field (deep ecology, ecocriticism, ecosophy, ecofeminism), writing & forest policy development; by cathy fitzgerald, visual culture, ncad, ireland

Featured video: hollywood diaries screen reel: 2008-2012... SD & HD 8:54
notes on a small conifer plantation being transformed to a mixed species, permanent forest

Image from my recent talk for Collective Conversations about Sustainability (UCD Art in Science programme with The Lab Gallery, Dublin). Yes, its me aged five!

Image from my recent talk for ‘Collective Conversations about Sustainability’ (organised by the UCD Art in Science programme with The Lab Gallery, Dublin). Yes, its me aged five!

Sustainability as a concept is a term that we hear all the time. But aren’t we, in fact, catastrophically poor at recognising the unsustainability that threads through our daily lives and which is rapidly increasing. I know I feel that when I consider one of the planetary tipping points, biodiversity loss, is rarely mentioned in public discourse of current land practices or in contemporary art that might be focussed on new debates concerning landscape art photography. The other day I had a group of college art students visiting Hollywood – most of them didn’t seem to know the rate of biodiversity loss that industrial land and ocean practices are causing – the estimated and unprecedented loss of 150 species a day (UN, 2010 figures).

And our rate of biodiversity loss exceeds one of 4 planetary boundaries scientists have confirmed as needed to sustain life on Earth (frighteningly, climate change which is more often discussed comes in behind biodiversity loss of the 9 planetary boundaries that the UN accepted in 2009). How do we face these realities and proceed? Do we need more science to add to the volumes of facts that we have known for decades? More sustainable ‘development’ policies that seem to suggest that we can continue to grow our consumer lifestyles infinitely?? Instead, in my recent talk for Collective Conversations about Sustainability (see below) at The Lab Gallery, Dublin a few weeks ago I speak about the crucial, and often overlooked role, that the arts have for societal change in this time of environmental emergency.

Philosopher, nature writer and activist Kathleen Dean Moore recently spoke with writer and environmental activist Derrick Jensen of the urgency of this decade as the ‘hinge decade’ where we must come together to create a ‘social tipping point’ for new  relations to others and the environments that sustain life. Dean Moore and Jensen argue we need to recognise the simplistic or distracting dangers in concentrating our discussions on recycling or adaptation. Instead, it is vital to resist the conventions that industrial culture perpetuates and, critically, we need to recognise where and with whom the power of unsustainable industrial practices lie. But to reach this point Dean Moore argues we have to develop the moral discourse, the skills of rational moral reasoning  and add these urgently to our scientific understanding to help propel society in other more life sustaining directions. (more…)

Holly charging around Fritz' site on our visit to hear his plans on planting a woodland

Holly charging around on our visit to hear Fritz’ plans on planting a woodland; Fritz has been inspired to plant a woodland from the recent talk in Hollywood – YAY!!!

Since behaviour is contagious to the third degree, you don’t know which friends – and friends of your friends’ friends – might be moved, by your example, to also turn the page to the next chapter of the adventure story they were meant to live in mutuality with you.
Kare Anderson, Mutuality Matters (2012)

I’m looking forward to this Wednesday 11 March where I will be joining a panel for a discussion on Pathways Toward Sustainability – a joint initiative from the UCD Art in Science programme and The Lab Gallery (Dublin arts office). Each of the panel will be talking briefly from different perspectives, from the coast to the forest, from science to local authorities,  which is so important as moving toward sustainability affects so many aspects of our lives.

I’ll be very briefly talking about the ‘culture of un-sustainability’ that modern industrial society is immersed in. And, how my modest project of transforming a small monoculture plantation into a forest is creating a ‘story’ that envisions deeper sustainability understandings and agency, to help us move away from the status quo of monoculture, industrial forestry.  I will very briefly talking about how my own project connects with people from non-art areas: foresters, educators, writers, politicians, and some of the local people in the area the Hollywood project has touched. (more…)

Cathy Fitzgerald:

I’ve just been standing outside watching visiting birds from the continent enjoying the seeds from one of our Alder trees. They work in a chattery team. Some at the top of the tree knock the tiny pine cones to the ground; other birds in the team on the ground have their turn in getting the seeds from the dropped cones. My ecologist friend Faith was telling me we have more birdsong in Ireland at this time of year (in Wintery February) due to all these overseas visitors.

I came inside to find Pete’s blog post below. Peter is a fellow art and ecology artist and educator I met a few years ago. I thought you all might enjoy this post about ‘birdsong’, the ‘little flower’ and ‘small, little ways’ we can introduce change. Pete’s drawings are all made from natural local materials; he grinds his own charcoal and pigments to sensitively reflect on the area in which he lives with others, birds included.

Update if you are in the Devon area:

11th – 25th march 2015 –an exploration into non-plastic painting mediums

with Victoria (BC) based artist Clare Thomas (http://www.clarethomasartist.wordpress.com)
residency, workshop and artist’s talk @ eARTh

Originally posted on expressions of an intimate ecology:

This morning I awoke to the sound of birdsong drifting through dawn-lit windows

The small, humble things in life offering sustenance in this big, big world

Spring hath sprung…

birdsong, compressed charcoal on paper © p ward 2015birdsong, compressed charcoal on paper © p ward 2015

“Curiously in amongst this plethora of Buddhism there was one token of Christianity – the autobiography of St Teresa of Lisieux. In spite of Tenzin Palmo’s antipathy to the Christian religion in general, she was drawn to the French saint who had entered a Carmelite nunnery when she was just fifteen and who had died at the age of twenty-four. She read her story several times and could quote from it at will.

‘The ironic thing is that the “little way” that she wrote about had nothing to do with the Way that I practiced. What I liked about her, however, was that she was very sensible. She sometimes slept through the…

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