Who is Haumea?

Haumea in the ferms
(Unknown artist)

Haumea is the Great Earth Mother, Goddess of fire and creation in the Pacific. Haumea is also the first Indigenous name given to a dwarf planet discovered in our solar system in 2004.

Some say the discovery of Haumea corresponds to awakening planetary ecological consciousness and a renewed interest in other non-Western cultures’ more life-sustaining worldviews.

Hello! My name is Cathy Fitzgerald and my work aims to empower those working in the arts to engage effectively with urgent eco-social issues.

In deciding on a name for my work, I wanted to express a strong symbol for the life-giving power and creativity of Earth. Haumea as Earth Mother is creative, caring and fiery – the very qualities we will need to develop to create the better world we know is possible. As citizens of the Earth we all embody Haumea.

Haumea summons me as I’m from Aotearoa New Zealand, a nation of islands that arises in the Pacific Ocean and first settled by sea-faring Polynesians and then European settlers.

I am fortunate to have dual citizenship with both Aotearoa New Zealand and Ireland. Leaving in 1875 when Irish people were struggling after harsh periods of famine, my Irish great grandmother gave birth to my grandfather at sea, on the long voyage from Ireland to Aotearoa New Zealand.

Both cultures and the Pacific ocean in-between has always inspired me.

Cathy Fitzgerald
Cathy Fitzgerald, PhD by Practice: eco-social artist | educator | researcher |

I also chose a symbol from Aotearoa New Zealand for my logo.  The ‘koru‘ – the iconic swirling symbol represented a frond of the silver tree fern un-spiralling as it grows, is the Māori word for ‘loop’ and  represents growth, strength and peace.

All NZ children draw the koru and you see it everywhere there (our famous rugby All Blacks’ symbol is the same Silver Tree fern). My Irish friends, however, think my logo is Celtic inspired – I love how such a symbol speaks universally of growth and potential. My logo had to be green of course, since I live in Ireland now and for the work I do.

By Jon Radoff - Own work, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1380624
Jon Radoff, CC BY 2.5

My ecological art practice evolved over many years

My considerable expertise in the art and ecology field is built on my work in both science, environmental and art fields.

Working in NZ research science for almost a decade, working with Crann – the Irish native forest NGO, obtaining contemporary art qualifications, managing an innovative Irish regional professional development programme for creatives, being involved in Green policy development, and more recently successfully advancing a theory-method framework to more easily understand and appreciate the social power of art and ecology practices from my own practice in my doctoral research, were all valuable in developing considerable practical and theoretical knowledge in this emergent area of contemporary art practice.

However, it took years for me to create an ecological practice––a practice that fully responds to ecological insights––as such knowledge was scarce in my art education and it radically challenges conventions in art practice.

The short film below was important to me. I had taken the footage in 2000, but it was 9 years later, around the time the 2009 UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen, that I made this video to think about how my efforts in restoring a small Irish forest were connected to global concerns, like sea-level rise in the Pacific Ocean. My videos in time, became just one part of the many activities that now make up my ecological art practice––what I call ‘eco-social art practice’ because these practices always involve social skill in building and maintaining relations with others to their places.

Atolls and islands in the Pacific Ocean are some of the most threatened regions for sea level rise and extreme weather events, affecting many peoples and living beings. Worryingly, since I visited Suwarrow atoll in 2000, a significant mid-way breeding point for seabirds in the Cook Islands, one of the islets is now submerged.

Since then, my ongoing creative eco-social art practice The Hollywood Forest Story (since 2008) explores new-to-Ireland permanent continuous cover forestry. My creative practice that traverses non-art knowledge and life experiences of learning new-to-Ireland forestry grounds and fuels my practice and recent doctoral research to explain ecological art practice –The Ecological Turn…’ (Fitzgerald, 2018).

I presented evidence from my practice in a audiovisual eBook (which you can freely download from iTunes – in pictures you can get a good overview of what ecological practices can sometimes entail.

My fully illustrated eBook The Hollywood Forest Story (free to download from iTunes, click button below)

I have more recently used my theory-method framework to advise a significant wetlands art programme too. It has been quite a journey, but a very rich one and rewarding one. I’m now excited to share my knowledge with other creatives and art educators.

I do hope you will be interested to learn why ecoliteracy is essential for developing effective creative practices and responsible art organisations that can inspire so many others.

Creative imagination, and creative practices are mysterious and exciting, especially when you learn and create together … although, you can never be completely sure what will unfold. Ecological insights will change you, and your world-view.