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Online: science and art @ Hay Festival Digital

May 23, 2020 @ 10:30 am - 12:00 pm

Hay Festival and NERC merge climate science and art with Trans.MISSION II online

13 May 2020

Hay Festival and the Natural Environment Research Council will launch the final part in their Trans.MISSION II collaboration later this month with two new films pairing leading environmental researchers with award-winning storytellers to communicate cutting-edge science to new audiences.

The release coincides with Hay Festival Digital (18-31 May) and sees British writer and journalist Patrice Lawrence interpret the water scarcity research of Dr Sarah Ayling and her team, while acclaimed illustrator Chris Haughton shares an innovative new animation inspired by the global project.

At a time of unprecedented public interest in how human actions affect the environment, Trans.MISSION II has paired NERC researchers from Colombia, Peru and the UK with artists and storytellers in each country to create stories about ongoing research projects over the past year.

Trans.MISSION II is the first international public engagement collaboration project for NERC. The project’s Peruvian strand culminated at Hay Festival Arequipa with the launch of Glacier Shallap, a short play from writer and actress Erika Stockholm drawing on the work of Cabot Institute’s Professor Jemma Wadham and her team of glaciology experts in the High Andes. And at Hay Festival Cartagena, the project’s Colombian strand culminated with the release of Espiral, a story by writer and activist Juan Cárdenas inspired by the work done by Dr Naomi Milner and her team on deforestation.

These pieces aim to inform, engage and inspire members of the public and future researchers in environmental science and the processes of research and will be discussed in a series of panel discussions during Hay Festival Digital:

23 May, 10.30am – Erika Stockholm, Jemma Wadham and Raul Loayza Murotalk


24 May, 10.30am – Naomi Millner, Ted Feldpausch and Juan Cárdenas


25 May, 10.30am – Sarah Ayling, Lindsey Mcewen and Patrice Lawrence


Andy Fryers, Sustainability Director at Hay Festival, said: “A year of international collaborations between climate scientists and storytellers comes to fruition during Hay Festival Digital. We are delighted to launch the work from our UK participants Patrice Lawrence, Dr Sarah Ayling and Professor Lindsey Mcewen, to reveal Chris Haughton’s contribution, and to hear from our global contributors on what Trans.MISSION II has meant to them. We hope that by building this shared space for engagement at the cutting edge of environmental research with NERC, we can find new ways to imagine a better future together.”

Alison Robinson, Director of Corporate Affairs, Futures & Change at NERC, said: “It’s vital to all our futures that we understand our planet and how our lives will be affected by a changing environment. This exciting collaboration with the Hay Festival Digital pairs art and environmental science to bring inspiring stories of innovative research funded by NERC to new audiences. Seeing how these artists tell the stories of our sciences is extraordinary and I’d like to encourage everyone to watch and share these works.”

Hay Festival Digital sees more than 100 award-winning writers, global policy makers, historians, pioneers and innovators take part, celebrating the best new fiction and non-fiction, and interrogating some of the biggest issues of our time, from Covid-19 and world health, to the climate crisis and our future, under the theme of #ImagineTheWorld.

Live sessions will be streamed via Crowdcast, offering registered users the opportunity to interactive with fellow audience members and pose their questions to speakers.

NERC is the UK’s main agency for funding environmental science, covering the full range of research from the deep oceans to the upper atmosphere and from the poles to the equator. Tackling major issues such as clean air, water and energy, extreme weather and the impact of our environment on human health, NERC scientists play a critical role in understanding how our planet works.

Trans.MISSION II follows 2018’s UK-only pilot, which saw three films released: Message from Antarctica by polar researcher Emily Shuckburgh and illustrator Chris Haughton, Clean Air Starts at Home by Aardman Animation Studios director Dan Binns and atmospheric chemist Professor Ally Lewis (voiced by Marcus Brigstocke), and the Weather Watching series by poet Nicola Davies and climate scientist Ed Hawkins. View them online at hayfestival.org/wales/hay-festival-transmission.

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