Film shows the way the Fresh Arts Festival helps create a caring, creative community at the heart of Southmead Hospital Bristol


A remarkable new film launched on 12th December 2014 captures the atmosphere of warmth, fun and celebration during a three-day arts festival held to celebrate the opening of the new Southmead Hospital Bristol.

The film, by Josh Gaunt, catches the spirit of North Bristol NHS Trust’s Fresh Arts Festival held during October 2014. It documents the role that art and creativity have played in bringing people together.

The Festival brought poetic first aid, a community knitting installation, model car racing, promenade theatre, music and a writer-in-residence on the wards, community choirs and a programme of activities to celebrate the opening of the new building.

North Bristol NHS Trust Director of Nursing, Sue Jones said: “I thought it was a fantastic three days; so inspiring. The festival brought a real sense of community to the hospital and was so beneficial for patients. It was like breathing soul into the building. We’ve designed the hospital to be a healing environment, and the arts programme has made that personal for people.”

“The Festival has brought people together in the new building to create a home. It has been like a giant house warming party,” said Jane Willis, Director of Willis Newson the arts and health consultancy that curated and produced the Festival in collaboration with the Trust’s arts programme Fresh Arts.

“The Festival has been a fantastic way of welcoming people into the hospital building and showing them that it is a healing space. It has been an opportunity for people to find out why we have a hospital arts programme, what it means,” said North Bristol NHS Trust Fresh Arts Manager Ruth Sidgwick.

One patient Jayne Richer describes the impact of the Festival: “To be able to get out of my room, being able to go for a walk on my own even with a Zimmer frame, was just the best ever. And then coming down to all of this! It was just a fantastic day!”

The festival was the culmination of a public art programme which involves patients, staff and the wider community. It features the permanent work of six artists in the building and surrounding grounds. Pieces of art provide moments of reflection or distraction. They lift the mood, or provoke emotional responses, encouraging empathy and understanding.

Underpinning the project is a close collaboration between North Bristol NHS Trust and its arts programme, Fresh Arts, architects Building Design Partnership (BDP), the commissioned artists, Carillion and Willis Newson.

Andrea Young, North Bristol NHS Chief Executive said: “The art at Southmead Hospital Bristol helps to create a more aesthetically pleasing environment, which is important for people’s sense of wellbeing. There are special places where people can have a quiet moment for reflection, there are things to help you feel more cheerful and things to comfort you. The art is helping to make Southmead Hospital a better place to be for patients, visitors and staff.”

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