Ecoliteracy Policy Research and Writing Expertise
Cathy’s research and writing skills evolved through her doctoral-level research in ecological art practice (The Ecological Turn, 2018) and her ongoing review of advances in the emergent art and ecology field, and her earlier career in writing scientific reports. Cathy has read widely across the art and ecology, ecocriticism, ecophilosophy and environmental ethics fields over many years. Her first art article was based on her undergraduate Fine Art thesis ‘Science and the Eclipse of the Earth’ (CIRCA, 2001).
‘Nature’ is historically one our most contested words. In our everyday world where understanding of the living world is poor, ‘Environment’ and ‘Ecology’ are used interchangeably but mean very different things. We often think ‘Sustainability’, ‘Sustainable Development’, ‘Resilience’ are what’s needed but these terms are commonly entangled with ideas of endless economic growth (impossible on a finite planet), neo-liberal politics, and suggest ‘adaptation’ is preferable than working to minimise climate change and species loss. Some in the arts maybe aware of the Anthropocene but fail to appreciate major new concepts like the Symbiocene. This and other concepts, evolving in ecophilosophy and ecopsychology fields reveal new frames to envision how we can live well with the Earth and its other inhabitants in perpetuity.
Thus, care is needed in writing cultural policy, designing art programmes and opportunities for creatives workers.
Cathy’s advanced ecoliteracy and academic knowledge of environmental art, art and science, ecological art practice, ecocriticism, eco-philosophy, environmental ethics, can assist you in developing leading research and written articles, and design effective calls for exhibitions, art programmes and projects that aim to effectively address eco-social issues.
Expertise for designing Eco-Social Art-Led Community Programmes:
Cathy also offers advice and writing on clear and accessible theory-method frameworks to guide art-workers or art-managers on how to develop successful long-term art-led community programmes that address urgent eco-social issues.
Increasingly art-led eco-social art programmes, led by local artists who accrue deep ecological knowledge of their place, who build relationships with community and local scientific, environmental and traditional knowledge holders, local educators and others, will be valued to engage communities to live well within rural or urban areas.
Due to the ecological emergency, Cathy predicts there will be an unavoidable shift in the creative sector to prioritise embedded-in-place, eco-social art activity over years, over the production of ‘new work’ as currently prioritised by many Art Councils. Harnessing the creativity of communities to safeguard their places, will be an urgent and community building response to the environmental catastrophe. Correspondingly, it will be essential to support creatives, who over years, amass valuable ecoliteracy (ecological knowledge) of their places. Perhaps a model will develop to value long-term creative residencies and thus support those art practitioners who develop rich ‘ecologies of practice (deeper relations between communities and their places)’ over the current emphasis of bringing outside artists to areas for short periods. Short residencies, at present, only allow superficial examination of ecological systems and do not foster deep community awareness for place. In some ways, as other researchers have noted, creatives working for places and community will have roles akin to those in Indigenous cultures, who reminded their communities of the beauty and preciousness of the environment through traditional creative activity.
In her home area, Cathy advises and supports local Carlow-based artists on the successful eco-social framework for the Creative Ireland Carlow Drummin bog school art programme (2019) see here. Cathy will be writing a significant document for future art activity for the area surrounding Carlow Drummin Bog following a significant Creative Ireland Award (2020-21).
Art & Sustainability Cultural Policy Research Expertise:
Cathy was awarded a Carlow Arts Office Award in 2016 to develop a research study on the absence of art and sustainability policy in Carlow, and which soon became a review of the lack of policy, strategy and educational and financial supports for the Irish arts sector as a whole.
Her report and online summary can be seen here.
Cathy was asked to present this research by Professors Karen Till, Gerry Kearns, Geography Dept, Maynooth University for the 50th Conference of Irish Geographers in May 2018 and lead a workshop on the topic ‘Raising the Shining, Reflective Shield’: the urgent need for cultural policy to engage Irish civil society toward eco-social well-being (Fitzgerald, 2018).
‘Raising the Shining, Reflective Shield’: the urgent need for cultural policy to engage Irish civil society toward eco-social well-being (Fitzgerald, 2019, Galway Moore Institute).
In June 2019, Dr. Nessa Cronin, Irish Studies, National University of Galway, asked Cathy to present a talk about her own eco-social art practice gave her growing awareness that Ireland’s art sectors requires art and sustainability policy and supports (see audiovisual slideshow here).
In this presentation, she led a conversation with local Galway art practitioners and academics ahead of the 7th EUGeo Conference, with support from her PhD supervisor Dr. Iain Biggs, Bath University UK, Research Centre for Environmental Humanities Fellow and Professors Karen Till and Gerry Kearns.