Project to document development of new hospital at Southmead

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

North Bristol NHS Trust has appointed two Bristol-based artists who will work with staff, patients and local people throughout the development of the new hospital at Southmead, right up until its opening in 2014.

Eleanor Wynne Davis and Deborah Aguirre Jones – collectively known as Davis & Jones – have lived and worked in the area for more than 10 years.

Their role in this project will be to engage and involve local people, staff and patients at both Frenchay and Southmead to create awareness of the major changes that are underway, mark key milestones and developments over the next four years and celebrate the very rich and diverse histories of both hospitals.

This public engagement project is the first part of the Trust’s overall arts plan for the new hospital that aims to create the very best possible environment for patients, visitors and staff when it opens in 2014.

This will include a series of exciting and diverse artist commissions – all specifically designed and chosen so they have direct benefits for patients and visitors as well as creating a pleasant working environment for staff.

The final details of what these will actually look like are currently being confirmed but they will include the landscaping of outside spaces. For example patients recovering from treatment such as dialysis or chemotherapy will be able to recuperate in the open air in a relaxing environment. Art will also be used to help people find their way around the large hospital site.

Talking about the public engagement programme, Eleanor said: “As part of our project we hope to make surprising and beautiful events and artworks, which spark people’s imaginations and curiosity.

“Sometimes we will make the work, sometimes people will make the work and sometimes other artists will make the work. The wonderful wealth of people and experiences offer a great opportunity to make memorable art with and for people during this period of transition.”

Deborah said: “Our way of working is to approach a place, spending time getting to know it; starting dialogues in order to read the culture and languages of the place, leading on to development of proposals for artistic interventions and provocations.

“Together we have a compatible and diverse practice. Drawing on the range of interests around public involvement and connection to place, we use our various skills to make art.”

Ruth Sidgwick, North Bristol NHS Trust’s Arts Programme Manager, said: “We are so excited to be working with Deborah and Eleanor on this fantastic project which we really hope people will want to get involved in.

“Over the coming months, they will be visiting community groups and talking to patients and staff. This is your opportunity to get involved in something truly momentous for the local area – so watch this space!

“Established academic research clearly shows that those patients who are recovering in a less stressful and calmer environment require less pain relief and are more likely to get better faster. A positive working environment has also been shown to improve staff morale, which clearly benefits patients.”

Anyone who would like to find out more about the project and to register their interest, can contact Davis & Jones via

Work is already underway on the new hospital and demolition of existing buildings to make way for the new, has already been started by developers Carillion. It will provide state-of-the-art healthcare under one roof and will open its doors to patients in 2014.

Davis & Jones’ previous projects the Dundry Hill project where they engaged young mums, youth offenders and people who had experienced mental ill health, in a series of outdoor art projects, to develop people’s connection to where they live and promote wellbeing.

Tented City was a dawn ‘til dusk walk-through sculpture, triggering stories and conversations about the new Junction 3 Learning Centre being built in Easton, Bristol. Tented City was developed from Easton Tours, a project where members of the community were invited to take the artists on a guided walk to their favourite places in the area.