Dr. Cathy Fitzgerald – now an Art & Ecology Research Fellow at the Burren College of Art

‘The Burren College of Art is a small, independent art school situated on the Wild Atlantic Way on the northwest coast of County Clare in Ireland. It is located in the Burren, a region famous for its natural beauty and unique ecosystem. We are an internationally recognized Irish non-profit college specializing in undergraduate, postgraduate and alternative approaches to fine art education.’

An Ash tree at the Burren College that was lit-up in my car headlights on a cold winters evening in early 2019. I noticed it all of a sudden after leaving the college one afternoon. The startling beauty of the area is such an inspiration and reminder of the Burren College’s teachings and its fantastic residential – studio opportunities for developing and established artists. See the website for more information: https://www.burrencollege.ie/

This time last year, I was invited by the Dean of the Burren College of Art, Conor McGrady, to teach the ‘Art and Ecology 16-week module’ for under-graduates.

New to sharing my knowledge after recently completing my PhD by Practice on ecological art: ‘The Ecological Turn, it was such a valuable opportunity to translate my knowledge into accessible, practical learning for others who are at the exciting stage of developing their professional creative careers.

It goes without saying that this opportunity afforded me so many real-world teaching insights for developing my modules for my ecoliteracy courses and workshops. I wish to thank Dean Conor McGrady and Dr. Eileen Hutton and especially my students for making me feel so welcome and teaching me as much as I shared my ideas with them.

I have since been invited to be an honorary Research Fellow at this wonderfully vibrant college that works so sensitively within and for its local environment.

As a Research Fellow, I will continue to share my research knowledge with the college and come occasionally to teach (I will be at the college again on Feb 19, 2020, giving a talk about my practice and research and tutoring current students). I will be so looking forward to reconnect with staff at this beautiful college and travelling again to this unique area of outstanding geologic and natural heritage.

Welcome news: Green Arts Initiative for Ireland launched

Huge congratulations to Caitriona Fallon and Theatre Forum Ireland, who under the guidance of Creative Carbon Scotland’s team and their Scottish Green Arts Initiative, have set up an Irish Green Arts Initiative to ‘provide Irish arts organisations with the resources and support to help build a green Irish arts community.’ #culturedeclaresemergency #ireland

Huge congratulations to Caitriona Fallon and Theatre Forum Ireland, who under the guidance of Creative Carbon Scotland‘s team and their Scottish Green Arts Initiative, have set up a Green Arts Initiative in Ireland to ‘provide Irish arts organisations with the resources and support to help build a green Irish arts community.’

I have written at length about the absence of supports and information for the Irish Arts Community in regards to engaging with eco-social concerns, and had indicated that replicating Creative Carbon Scotland’s strategies would suit particularly suit the Irish context. I literally knocked on Creative Carbon Scotland’s door in 2016, asking for their support to for my research on overseas art & sustainability programmes. CEO Ben Twist and his colleague Gemma Lawrence couldn’t have been more supportive.

Caitriona was in touch with me last year and again more recently and she is passionate about this area too. As the former CEO of Siamsa Tíre, the Irish Folklore Theatre and Gallery in Tralee, she was instrumental in getting the first Green Accreditation for a cultural space in Ireland ‘Greening Siamsa Tíre‘ and creating internal policies for waste and water management, energy, biodiversity, transport and travel, green teams and green procurement, through Julie’s Bicycle, the English art and sustainiblity organisation. Therefore, the launch of the Green Arts Initiative in Ireland by someone who is experienced in Greening a public cultural space and organisation is very welcome news for everyone in the Irish arts community, not matter what art discipline you pursue.

And if  you are unfamiliar why its so important to bring arts and sustainability ideas together, there are strong and urgent moral reasons why all workers in cultural institutions should engage with these developments. (I share environmental philosopher and writer Kathleen Dean Moore’s clear explaination as to why moral reasoning compels us all to act now in Chapter 2.2 of my review of overseas art and sustainability programmes). Having a Irish Green Arts Initiative will undoubtedly help Ireland’s arts community appreciate that the arts have a key role, alongside science, to engage our diverse communities in rural and urban Ireland for a better and more beautiful world.

Greening Ireland’s ‘Organisations’ is one key strategy that Creative Carbon Scotland and Julie’s Bicycle recommend. Hopefully before too long, other developments to support ‘Artists’ and ongoing ‘Strategy’ (as seen below), central to both the Scottish and UK’s programmes, will also be adopted in Ireland to enable our arts community to effectively engage with this topic for all their audiences.

The three main areas for Creative Carbon Scotland’s and similary for Julie’s Bicycle art and sustainability programmes in the UK. Image: Creative Carbon Scotland, 2019.

These are the first aims that Catriona and Theatre Forum will be looking at below.

If you are involved in managing or work at an Irish cultural space or organisation please contact Caitriona below:

Run by Theatre Forum and Catriona Fallon, under the guidance of Creative Carbon Scotland, the Green Arts Initiative in Ireland aims to:

  • Support members with practical advice on reducing their carbon footprint and overall environmental impacts.
  • Provide members with opportunities to enhance their sustainability competencies through training and networking.
  • Collect information about what organisations are currently doing to improve their sustainability.
    It would be really helpful if you could complete our survey.

Useful Resources 

Here are some resources that we’ve created – more to come!

Email info@theatreforum.ie for more information.

This information was originally posted in the Creative Carbon Scotland newsletter 28 June 2019.