Future Perfect: Pieces of Play

Nils Norman, Pieces of Play (Theatre Curtain), Hengrove, 2015. Photo © Max McClure, courtesy of Bristol City Council.


Artist Nils Norman was commissioned in 2012 to find a way of bringing together the large number of small green spaces in the residential areas of Hengrove, with the aim of providing a focal point for residents. The work was commissioned as part of Future Perfect, an area-wide public art programme for the Hengrove and Whitchurch Ward in South Bristol which was curated and developed by curator/commissioner team Theresa Bergne and Jes Fernie.


There are three parts to Nils Normans’ Future Perfect commission, each visually interlinked to create a notional and physical trail through the area, starting from Hengrove Community Centre.

A new hand-made theatre curtain for Hengrove Community Centre was produced and installed in spring 2014. Inspired by the murals of Mexican artist Diego Rivera produced in the 1950s, Norman created a bespoke design which incorporates significant historical events and activities that took place in the area, as well as personal stories shared by local residents. Using his signature-mark line drawing technique, Norman’s contemporary design creates a poignant and striking link between the past, present and future of Hengrove.

A section of patterned path designed by Norman was also installed at the entrance to the St Giles Estate in summer 2014, made of tiles that reference local people’s driveways and garden walls. This path provides improved access for pedestrians, buggies and wheelchair users and prevents motorbike-users entering the site.

The final element of Pieces of Play is a series of simple play spaces installed in the grounds of three local schools (Bridge Farm, Perry Court and Oasis New Oak Primary school) in autumn 2014, as well as a public green area at Hengrove Park Farm. Using natural materials, these spaces provide a visually unique environment for children to play and construct their own imaginative games.

Further info

Find out more by visiting the Future Perfect Web site containing information on the artists and commissions, as well as videos and photos of activity to date.

Nils Norman

Nils Norman lives in London and works across the disciplines of art, architecture and urban planning. He is interested in ways in which public art can stimulate regeneration. Informed by local politics and developments in alternative economic, ecological systems, Norman’s work merges utopian alternatives with current urban design to create a humorous critique of the discrete histories and functions of public art and urban planning.

Play is an important conceptual and design element in much of his work, which is informed by extensive international research.  He has created a number of playscapes, creative play structures and adventure playgrounds over the past ten years and is particularly interested in the introduction of risk into play.

He has completed major public art projects, including a pedestrian bridge, small playgrounds and a landscaping project for the City of Roskilde in Denmark; has participated in various biennials worldwide and has developed commissions for the Underground and Tate Modern in London, SculptureCenter in Long Island City and Creative Time in New York, and the Centre d’ Art Contemporain in Geneva, Switzerland.

He is currently developing two small-scale urban farming parks in the Hague, the Netherlands and is lead artist for a regeneration scheme in Trumpington, south Cambridge which includes play elements, street furniture, an allotment, community garden and wayfinding. He is also Professor at the Royal Danish Academy of Art and Design, Copenhagen, Denmark, where he leads the School of Walls and Space.

Norman’s wider interest in collaboration, play and regeneration was ideal for the creation of the Green Spaces Commission for Hengrove

Field Art Projects

Field Art Projects is an art consultancy based in Bristol run by Theresa Bergne. Established in 1999, the organisation has more than a decade of experience commissioning visual artists, designers and performers to create permanent and temporary public artworks and event programmes. Projects include Wonders of Weston, a regeneration programme for Weston super Mare, co-curated with Situations, based at the University of the West of England, and an ambitious, award winning public art programme for The Barts Breast Care Centre in London.  Field Art Projects has recently delivered a multi-disciplinary public art project for Sovereign Housing in Barton Hill with the artist Serena Korda and are now working with the University of Bristol on a series of new commissions.

Jes Fernie

Jes Fernie is an independent curator and writer based in Colchester in East Anglia. She works with galleries, architectural practices and public realm organisations on public programmes, commissioning schemes and residency projects across the UK. Working primarily beyond gallery walls, she is interested in an expansive idea of contemporary artistic practice, which encompasses dialogue, research, engagement and serendipity. She is a member of many art commissioning selection panels and has worked with organisations including firstsite, Tate, Peer, Serpentine Gallery, RIBA, St Paul’s Cathedral, Central St Martins, University of Essex and the RCA.


  • Commissioner

    Bristol City Council

  • Produced by

    Theresa Bergne (Field Art Projects) and Jes Fernie

  • Partners

    Hengrove and Stockwood Neighbourhood Partnership

  • Supported by

    Bristol City Council