Artangel will present a specially commissioned sound installation at London’s iconic Senate House Library featuring thousands of words for the weather in ten languages commonly spoken across the city. Opening on 23 June 2022, A Thousand Words for Weather is the first project to launch as part of a ground-breaking new alliance of artists and writers called the World Weather Network, initiated by Artangel and 28 cultural organisations around the world.

Throughout three floors of Senate House Library, which is part of the University of London, visitors will experience the sound of the weather as it responds to live data from the Met Office.

A collaboration with writer Jessica J Lee and sound artist Claudia Molitor, A Thousand Words for Weather offers a new multilingual ‘dictionary’ of words with their definitions to explore the role of translation and generate a shared language to describe our changing experience of climate and the environment.

To create the dictionary, Jessica J Lee worked with seven other UK-based poets to translate ten words for the weather into ten languages including Arabic, Bengali, English, German, French, Mandarin, Polish, Spanish, Turkish, and Urdu. The poets and translators who helped create the dictionary include Izdihar Alodhami, Nikhat Hoque with the Bengali British Poetry Collective, Leo Boix, Iris Colomb, Marta Dziurosz, Nina Mingya Powles and Ayça Turkoglu.

Software architect Peter Chilvers will create a bespoke playback system to input data from the Met Office, manipulating the installation’s sound mix in response to changes in the weather.

Positioning itself as a digital ‘weather station’ the new World Weather Network will invite artists and writers to report on environmental changes experienced locally that go on to form a complex and constantly fluctuating global climate system.

From summer 2022, for one year, weather reports will come from stations in places as far reaching as, a coastline in Peru, a mountain range in India, a temple in Greece, a glacier in New Zealand, and a tropical rainforest in Guyana. Each organisation will share their reports on a new online platform which will also host a programme of talks and events with artists, writers and leading thinkers and climate scientists from different parts of the world.

A Thousand Words for Weather at will open at Senate House Library on 23 June 2022 and run across the seasons during library opening hours until spring 2023. 

Explore a new series of talks on weather, cultural expression, the body, and how connecting across languages can help us better speak about our changing climate.

Presented in collaboration with Jessica J Lee and the School of Advanced Study.

Details on how to book to attend these events will be available soon.

Event 1: Professor Friederike Otto and Jeanette Winterson in conversation | 21 July

21 July 2022 | 18:30-20:00 | Senate House 
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Fredi 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 was born in Manchester, England, and adopted by Pentecostal parents who brought her up in the nearby mill-town of Accrington. After reading English at Oxford University she wrote her first novel, Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit, when she was 23. It was published a year later in 1985. Since then, she has published more than a dozen books including the memoir 'Why be happy when you could be normal?' and 'The Daylight Gate', and has won various awards around the world for her fiction and adaptations, including the Whitbread Prize, UK, and the Prix d'argent, Cannes Film Festival. Jeanette Winterson was appointed Professor of Creative Writing at Manchester in September 2012. She was awarded a CBE for services to literature in 2018.

Event 2: Weather in Translation, Time, Place, and Sound | 29 September 

29 September 2022 | 18:30-19:30 | Senate House 
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A round table, featuring the creators of A Thousand Words for Weather, including writer Jessica J. Lee with poets Izdihar Alodhami, Leo Boix, Iris Colomb, Marta Dziurosz, Nikhat Hoque, Ayça Turkoglu and sound artist Claudia Molitor.

Reflecting on our ability to share experiences across languages and media, the translators will discuss the process and meaning of translation not just between languages, but also between artforms, focussing on word, sound and space. This panel will put the creative contributors of A Thousand Words for Weather in a lively, in-person exchange for the first time, offering a rare opportunity to delve into how each sought to reimagine the weather words for their own language or medium.

Event 3: Weather, Words, and the Body | 26 October 

26 October 2022 | 18:30-20:00 | Senate House 
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A discussion featuring authors Jean McNeil, Polly Atkin, JR Carpenter and Amanda Thomson, chaired by Jessica J. Lee.

From far-distant Antarctic cold to the water of the Lake District, this panel will offer short readings and intimate conversations to spotlight literary women’s embodied experiences of weather and sensation through the written word; exploring the ways perceptions of weather can be both deeply personal and felt in the wider world.