Hay Festival Trans.MISSION II

Hay Festival and the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) joined forces for Trans.MISSION II, a new global project pairing leading environmental researchers with award-winning storytellers to communicate cutting-edge science to new audiences.

The project followed 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 last year's films

Parched earth in the UK

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

Trans.MISSION II was the first international public engagement collaboration project for NERC, with each new piece launched at Hay Festival events in Arequipa, Peru (7–10 November 2019); Cartagena, Colombia (30 January–2 February 2020) and in Hay-on-Wye, Wales (21–31 May 2020).

Peru’s collaboration focused on tropical glaciers research project, ‘CASCADA’ and featured writer, theatre producer and actress Erika Stockholm who wrote a play ‘Glacier Shallap - or the sad tale of a dying glacier’.

Colombia’s paired the research project, ‘BioResilience’ which focuses on biodiversity and indigenous communities, with Colombian art critic, curator, translator and author Juan Cárdenas. He created a short story, ‘Spiral’.

In the UK, research project ‘DRY’, which is looking at droughts and water scarcity, provided the inspiration for award-winning author Patrice Lawrence to write the short story, ‘Day Zero and Chips’.

Following from the creation of the three stories, the award-winning illustrator Chris Haughton created an overarching digital animation, ‘Confluence’, to communicate the science in a different form. 

All these new creative pieces aimed to inform, engage and inspire members of the public and future researchers in environmental science and the processes of research.

NERC is the driving force of investment in environmental science, advancing the frontier of environmental science by commissioning new research, infrastructure, innovation and training that delivers valuable scientific breakthroughs. Find out more about NERC.