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Hot topic: author Jeanette Winterson and Professor Friederike Otto discuss the climate


Event this Thursday 21 July at 18:30 Best-selling author Jeanette Winterson and climatologist Professor Friederike Otto, from Imperial College London, will discuss the climate crisis at Senate House Library. The event is part of the awareness-raising installation A Thousand Words for Weather.

Climate change is a hot topic at the moment, with temperatures this week breaking all records. Tomorrow evening bestselling author Jeanette Winterson and Professor Friederike Otto will discuss the climate crisis in an intimate conversation at London's Senate House Library.

The backdrop to the event is “A Thousand Words for Weather”, a new experience inside Senate House Library, produced with the collaboration of the School of Advanced Study, that forms Artangel's contribution to the World Weather Network (WWN) – an international gathering of 29 arts organisations from around the world.

As part of WWN, each organisation will be taking on the guise of a weather station for a year from 21 June 2022, producing reports, alerts and forecasts that all seek to integrate the imagination of creative artists with the knowledge of climate scientists and environmental thinkers.

As experts debate how best to address the climate emergency, it can sometimes feel like it generates more heat than light. The partnership of arts with climate science will be aptly articulated through Thursday’s conversation combining two contrasting minds, meeting for the first time across disciplines.

Charles Burdett, Director at the Institute of Modern Languages Research, part of the School of Advanced Study, said:

“This week’s record-breaking temperatures have highlighted yet again that the issue of climate change is a growing emergency. How we respond to the crisis could impact on the lives of our children, grandchildren and future generations. It is essential therefore that we discuss not only climate change, but the language we employ to discuss that change.

“This conversation between one of our best-known authors and most eminent professors demonstrates that the arts and climate science may describe the crisis in different ways, but are united in the view that climate change needs to be tackled before it is too late.”

Join Professor Otto and Jeanette Winterson in conversation at the Senate House library tomorrow.

Time: 18:30 - 20:00

Date: Thursday 21 July 2022

4th Floor, Senate House
Malet Street

Tickets are free and available on a first come, first served basis, go to Artangel to book.

More information

Professor Friederike Otto is a Senior Lecturer in Climate Science at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment at Imperial College, London. A physicist with a doctorate from the Free University Berlin in philosophy of science in 2011, she joined the University of Oxford in the same year where she was director of the Environmental Change Institute. Otto’s main research interest is on extreme weather events such as droughts, heat waves and storms, and understanding to what extent these are made more severe due to climate change attribution as outlined in her publication Angry Weather.

Jeanette Winterson is a British writer. Her first novel Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit was published in 1985. She has written more than 20 books of fiction and non-fiction, including the memoir Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? Her work is published in 27 countries. She has won numerous awards, including a BAFTA for her BBC adaptation of 'Oranges...'. Her latest book is a collection of essays about 12 Bytes at AI and her TED talk on AI, delivered at the 2022 TED conference in Vancouver, is available on YouTube. She is Professor of New Writing at the University of Manchester.

About A Thousand Words for Weather

A Thousand Words for Weather is a specially commissioned sound installation presented by Artangel and Senate House Library with the support of the School of Advanced Study that probes the connection between the environment, language, translation, sound and silence.

The new sonic experience was born out of a collaboration between writer Jessica J. Lee, sound artist Claudia Molitor, and seven London-based poets who speak ten of the most commonly heard mother tongues in the city.

These words form a sound piece, integrated with a bespoke playback system designed by software architect Peter Chilvers to input data from the Met Office, so the audio constantly reflects the live, local changes in the weather.

Alongside the audio installations, a new exhibition spotlighting historical items chosen from Senate House Library’s collections will offer a glimpse into different perceptions, recordings, and observations regarding the weather over the past 500 years.