Some of you may have read Cathy’s recent reflections on the Findhorn New Story Summit. We also discovered that Cathy is creating short films about a very interesting forest transformation project in Ireland, taking place in the small forest, ‘Hollywood’, in which she lives.
Cathy is a New Zealand, Irish based artist filmmaker, writer, forest worker and former biologist. Her art practice PhD work is about helping transform a small monoculture conifer plantation called ‘Hollywood’ to become a forest.
This has led her to introduce ‘Close to Nature’ continuous cover forestry as a key point in Irish Green Party forest policy (she is the Irish Green Party forest spokesperson) as well as getting the Irish Green party to unanimously support the need for a law for ecocide. Cathy is working with leading foresters in Ireland and from Europe through the EU-wide Pro Silva Europe federation which over the last 25 years has been promoting ‘Close to Nature’ continuous cover, non clearfell forestry. In Slovenia, for example, it has been illegal to clearfell forests for over 25 years, and mixed age, mixed species forestry management is very established.
Cathy’s art practice PhD work is articulating the methods of long-term transdisciplinary eco art practices, such as her own, for other artists but also for others from non-art domains who may not otherwise appreciate the importance of such artful practices to accelerate eco-social learning and change. Part of her practice has been making experimental short films to accompany the writings, environmental philosophy, forest practices and policy work with which she has been involved.
Below is a screen reel of Cathy’s short films that have engaged people in the ongoing project and Hollywood. Over time Cathy has tried to ‘step back’ in these films and let the ‘forest community’ speak, in contrast to conventionally human-narrated nature documentary. The screen reel starts with a clip from ‘Hokitika’, the place in New Zealand (on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand) where Cathy spent her first five years. Hokitika is a Maori word which means ‘place of return’ and it’s these forests that continually inspire Cathy’s work.
Next year Cathy will be publishing an audiovisual ebook ‘Resiliencies’ which will include these films, and other material on how to change monoculture plantations into forests. She is hoping this will both inspire other artists in eco-restoration work and give one example of how we can move away from ecocidal land practices.
Last year, with the findings that Ash dieback had arrived in Ireland and was threatening Ireland’s most common native tree, Cathy made a short response with this latest clip ’The black space: resilience of the Ash night’. Even when all appears dark, closely observing how forest communities thrive in all their diversity will have much to teach us about resilience.
Follow Cathy’s work.