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

Find out more about the artists

View the full Hay Festival 2018 programme at 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