Kia Ora, my name is Cathy Fitzgerald, and I’m an Irish-based New Zealander living in rural County Carlow in Ireland these past 20 years. Since the late 1990s, I have been inspired by the emergent art and ecology field in visual culture, which I deepened through doctoral contemporary ecological art practice and research.
I have unique insights to share with the creative sector now through an entrepreneurial approach. I deeply understand that the historical divisions in our art education–that separate ecological learning from the arts and humanities–is failing to prepare many of us in the creative sector for the unprecedented and accelerating ecosocial challenges we now face. Under-acknowledged as yet, the creative sector has a leadership role to inspire diverse communities to live well with others and the wider community of life.
Determined to address the poor ecoliteracy levels across the Irish creative sector, in 2019 following support from the Carlow Local Enterprise Centre and the Carlow Arts Office, I researched and received mentoring on how to develop, market and conduct engaging online ‘Essential Ecoliteracy courses for Creatives and Art Professionals’ – an idea that arose in the conclusion of my PhD (Fitzgerald, 2018).
I received valuable advice from serial entrepreneur Mary Carty, former arts officer, now a leading Irish women-in-business tech-strategist and co-founder of Ireland’s new Awaken Hub (Ireland’s new women-led, for women, entrepreneurial business network), and cutting-edge learning from the Canadian online-learning course developer experts at MIRASEE.
In early 2020, coinciding with the pandemic lockdown, I successfully launched, marketed and piloted my #HaumeaOnline ecoliteracy courses.
My online course offerings, now expanding with other collaborators, is the learning I wish I had access to when I began my contemporary art education in the late 90s. The course material is the distilling of hard-won experience and learning over many years, from developing a nationally-recognised eco-social art practice, The Hollywood Forest Story (Woodworth, Irish Times, 7 March 2020) and my doctoral research.
Crucially, I see my new business of teaching ecoliteracy as another facet of my eco-social art practice. For these urgent times, it’s my contribution, as the first Irish signatory of the international #CultureDeclares movement– of cultural workers working to radically renew and reimagine the creative sector to inspire society toward a better, more beautiful world. And already, due to the online nature of my work, I am sharing ecoliteracy with Irish and international creative professionals across the world.
“Cathy is an inspirational teacher, artist and friend who has enriched my understanding of ecocide and climate chaos immeasurably..”Carole Nelson, musician and composer