NERC and Hay Festival launch Trans.MISSION films merging climate science and art

26 May 2018

NERC and Hay Festival have today unveiled the Trans.MISSION series, three new short films by award-winning artists to communicate cutting-edge science to new audiences at Hay Festival 2018 and beyond.

Montage of images from the short films

Message from Antarctica by polar researcher Emily Shuckburgh and illustrator Chris Haughton, Clean Air by Aardman Animation Studios director Dan Binns and atmospheric chemist Professor Ally Lewis (voiced by Marcus Brigstocke), and Weather Watching by poet Nicola Davies and climate scientist Ed Hawkins, were launched today and will be discussed at a trio of events at Hay Festival Wales over the late May Bank Holiday weekend. Links to the videos are available below.

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 - and environmental science - affects our lives. These collaborations bring together high-profile illustrators and authors with NERC's leading researchers in creating striking short animations, using powerful words and images, to show why environmental science matters to all our lives.

It's great to see these works bring out the importance of our science in such an engaging way, from the rapid changes in the Antarctic or the quality of the air we breathe here at home in the UK. We'd like to encourage people to watch and share these short videos online and with friends and family, and look forward to seeing what ongoing conversations Ed, Emily and Ally's work inspires.

Hay Fesitival Wales

Andy Fryers, Sustainability Director at Hay Festival, said:

Hay Festival is one of the few places where artists, scientists and policymakers share the same stage, blending disciplines and art forms in exciting ways. Trans.MISSION collides these worlds in a new and exciting way and the resulting trio of new films offer a new take on the biggest issues facing our planet.

Still from Message from Antarctica animation

Message from Antarctica

Message from Antarctica sees Deputy Head of the Polar Oceans Team at the British Antarctic Survey, Emily Shuckburgh, work with award-winning designer, author and illustrator Chris Haughton (A Bit Lost, Oh No George! and Shh! We Have a Plan) to offer an inside look at polar science. Through engaging illustrations, the film distills the science behind global warming into a clear message. Chris and Emily discuss the project - external link - at Hay Festival on Saturday 26 May 2018.

Emily said: "I hope people will gain some insight into the excitement of doing scientific research and the importance of the findings for understanding the future of our planet."

Visit Planet Earth to watch the video and read the full interview with Emily and Chris.

Still from Clean Air animation

Clean Air

A surprising amount of air pollution is emitted by the home. In Clean Air, Aardman Animation Studios director Dan Binns teams up with, atmospheric chemist at the National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS) and the University of York, Professor Ally Lewis to explore the impacts of air pollution beyond cars and exhaust pipes. The animation is voiced by comedian Marcus Brigstocke. Dan and Ally discuss the project - external link - at Hay Festival on Monday 28 May 2018.

Ally said: "The piece uses really interesting ideas for visualising pollution in ways I wouldn't have thought of."

Visit Planet Earth to watch the video and read the full interview with Ally and Dan.

Still from Weather Watching short film

Weather Watching

Extreme weather events are becoming more frequent, but monitoring those events is fraught with challenges. In Weather Watching, award-winning poet Nicola Davies teams up with climate scientist Professor Ed Hawkins, from NCAS and the University of Reading, to explore the interplay of climate and weather. Nicola and Ed discuss the project - external link - at Hay Festival on Tuesday 29 May 2018.

Ed said: "It is an amazing opportunity to work with a talented author to help communicate the risks of our changing climate to a different audience."

Visit Planet Earth to read the full interview with Ed and Nicola and watch their short films.

Further information

Mary Goodchild
External Communications Manager
01793 411939
07710 147485


1. Trans.MISSION works within NERC's public engagement strategy to inform, engage and inspire members of the public and future researchers in environmental science and the processes of research.

2. 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. Featuring over 600 of the world's greatest writers, global policymakers, 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.

3. The trio of discussion events will be available to watch afterwards by subscribing to the Hay Player - external link (fee required).

4. Our previous news announcement contains biographies of the researchers and artists working on Trans.MISSION.