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Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and Hay Festival have joined forces to launch Trans.MISSION, a new project pairing leading environmental scientists with award-winning artists to communicate cutting-edge science to new audiences at Hay Festival 2018 and beyond.

Ally Lewis, atmospheric chemist at the National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS) joins Aardman Animation Studios’ director Dan Binns to look at air pollution. NCAS climate scientist Ed Hawkins pairs children’s author Nicola Davies to analyse extreme weather events. Climate scientist and mathematician at British Antarctic Survey Emily Shuckburgh joins award-winning designer, author and illustrator Chris Haughton (A Bit LostOh No George! and Shh! We Have a Plan) to explore polar science and climate change. 


Each pairing will produce a piece of work – an animation, a series of still pictures with text, an infographic or animated text – to be launched in a series of public events during Hay Festival’s Hay on Earth programme (24 May–3 June 2018).

Engaging new audiences

Featuring over 600 of the world’s greatest writers, global policy-makers, pioneers and innovators in 800 events across 11 days, the festival showcases the latest ideas in the arts, sciences and current affairs, alongside a rich schedule of music, comedy and entertainment for all ages.

Alison Robinson, NERC Director of Corporate Affairs, said: “Understanding our changing planet is fundamental to all our futures, and art has the power to start conversations around how our environment affects our lives. We hope that bringing together high-profile artists with NERC’s leading researchers to create compelling visuals will engage new audiences with our cutting-edge environmental science, from the freezing Antarctic and the world’s changing climate to the air we breathe here at home in the UK. We are proud to be working with Hay Festival and excited to see what creativity and ongoing engagement Ed, Emily and Ally’s work inspires.”

Dr Emily Shuckburgh said: “The findings of climate science affect all of us: they warn of the perilous state in which we have placed the planet and of the urgency with which we need to respond if we are to limit the risks to society of future climate change. I am very excited to be working with Chris to find new ways of engaging people in our scientific discoveries on this important topic. I am certain that the combination of Chris’ wonderful creative talents with the profound and majestic insights Antarctica offers will prove to be captivating.”

Ally Lewis HayFestival

What is Hay Festival?

Hay Festival addresses environmental concerns through its Hay on Earth programme of conversations and lectures, and through its own efforts to operate sustainably. This year’s festival will be powered entirely by renewable energy from Good Energy, while it will be the first festival in the UK to trial a reusable hot drink cups system; 80% of waste produced on site is recycled.

The festival site is free to enter, with ticketed events in 10 tented venues, plus a range of sites to explore, including the Festival Bookshop; the HAYDAYS courtyard; the Hay Festival Wild Garden; creative workshops in the Make and Take Tent, the Scribblers Hut, The Cube and the Mess Tent; and market stalls, cafés, and restaurants.

Find out more about the scientists

Professor Ally Lewis

Professor Ally Lewis is an atmospheric chemist who works for the National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS) and the University of York. Ally’s main research focus is air pollution and how to detect chemicals in the atmosphere. He also regularly provides advice to government about the quality of the air in cities and inside buildings.

Professor Ed Hawkins

Professor Ed Hawkins is a climate scientist who works for the National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS) and the University of Reading. Ed focuses on improving predictions of climate change and its impacts, but he is also passionate about the history of climate science, rescuing lost weather measurements using volunteer citizen scientists (weatherrescue.org) and engaging the public about climate change, especially with novel visualisations. Find Ed on twitter: @ed_hawkins.

Dr Emily Shuckburgh

Dr Emily Shuckburgh is a leading climate scientist, mathematician and author working at the British Antarctic Survey. She holds a number of positions at the University of Cambridge (fellow of Darwin College, fellow of the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, associate fellow of the Centre for Science and Policy and member of the Faculty of Mathematics). In the past Emily has worked at Ecole Normal Superieure in Paris and at MIT. She is a fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society and co-chair of their Climate Science Communications Group. She has also acted as an advisor to the UK Government on behalf of the Natural Environment Research Council. In 2016 she was awarded an OBE for services to science and the public communication of science. She is co-author with HRH The Prince of Wales and Tony Juniper of the Ladybird Book on Climate Change.

Find out more about the artists

Dan Binns

Dan Binns is a designer and director at Aardman. Since having a short film screened at the ‘onedotzero’ film festival in 2010, Binns has worked in the animation industry for multiple studios across Bristol and London, and in various roles for clients Tesco, Disney, Google and Sky TV on projects for broadcast, advertising, short films and series. Later, as a director, he has been has been involved in a variety of projects from short films for charities to advertising and promotional work. https://vimeo.com/danielbinns.

Nicola Davies

Nicola Davies is the author of more than 50 books for children, fiction, non-fiction and poetry. Her work has been published in more than 10 languages and has won major awards in the UK, US, France, Italy and Germany. Nicola trained as a zoologist, she has a degree in Natural Sciences from King's College Cambridge,  spent some years as a field biologist and studied humpback and sperm whales and bats before joining the BBC Natural History Unit as a researcher and then presenter. Following the start of her writing career she became a senior lecturer in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University but has been writing full-time for over a decade. She runs workshops for children and adults to help them find their voices as writers and advocates for nature. In 2017 she was the first recipient of the SLA’s award for Outstanding Contribution to Children’s Non Fiction and in 2018 had four picture-books longlisted for the Greenaway Award. She is a Trustee of the World Land Trust, a conservation organisation with partners in countries across the world. www.nicola-davies.com.

Chris Haughton

Chris Haughton is an Irish author/illustrator based in London. He was listed in Time magazine's 'DESIGN 100' for the work he has been doing for fair-trade clothing company People Tree. He has written and illustrated four books: A bit Lost, Oh No George!, Shh! We Have a Plan and Goodnight Everyone. His iOS app, Hatmonkey came out in 2014 and virtual reality experience Little Earth launched in August 2017. Chris has also created a social business, madebynode.com to connect design and fair trade, and make rugs and toys. chrishaughton.com.

View the full Hay Festival 2018 programme at hayfestival.org. Booking opens today to Friends of Hay Festival online or via 01497 822 629; public booking opens Thursday 29 March.

Hay Festival image provided courtesy of Elisabeth Broekaert