Davis & Jones (Southmead Hospital)

Davis & Jones, Moveable Feast, Southmead. Photo © Davis & Jones, courtesy of the artist and Willis Newson.


As part of the development of Southmead Hospital, artists Davis & Jones were commissioned to establish a Staff Engagement Programme to explore and document the process of change accompanying the new development, to build relationships and encourage a sense of pride and ownership of the new space.


Artists Davis & Jones employed creative methodologies in working with staff to understand the issues involved in the move from the old hospital sites which were due to close (Frenchay Hospital and the old Southmead Hospital) to the new Southmead location. MOVE was a multi-stranded arts programme which aimed to improve the experience of those affected by the hospital development, and celebrate the building progress during this time.

A thorough research approach was undertaken which included interviews with staff, spending time at the hospital and shadowing people whose job role involved moving across the two sites (e.g. porters/security).

The artists then curated a programme of projects and interventions  that engaged with the whole hospital community and which aimed to be intriguing and provocative, to start conversations and to create shared memories.

The programme included a range of events, targeted activities and drop-in sessions which covered a various artforms. For example, Moveable Feasts involved pop-up breakfast tents serving tea, coffee and bacon sandwiches to staff at the start of shifts as a way of starting conversations and getting to know people.  During Moveable Feasts 500 breakfasts were served to staff while Davis & Jones engaged people in conversation about the hospital transition.

Well was the second project to be delivered within the overall programme of MOVE.   The project was a series of conversations with hospital staff around the question “In the midst of everything, what makes you feel well?” and the production of a book.

Splice was the third project.  Its primary aim was to celebrate the specialism and expertise of surgeons and construction engineers.  By bringing them together, this project explored and highlighted the building of the new hospital at Southmead, the commonalities and differences of their professions.  A medical illustrator was commissioned to explore the parallels between building and surgical processes. A writer was commissioned to document the encounters through creative writing.  In addition, the project aimed to bring the building site into focus, whilst still behind the hoardings, engaging a wider audience in the building process and recording various stages and processes of the building.

Davis & Jones commented: “As part of our Public Engagement Programme we hoped to make surprising and beautiful events and artworks, to spark people’s imaginations and curiosity.

“The wonderful wealth of people and experiences offer a great opportunity to make memorable art with and for people during this period of transition.”

The public art programme for the new Southmead Hospital was led by arts consultants Willis Newson, commissioned by the developers of the site, Carillion. Underpinning the project was a close collaboration between North Bristol NHS Trust and its arts programme Fresh Arts, architects Building Design Partnership (BDP), the commissioned artists, Carillion & Willis Newson. Willis Newson also worked with Theresa Bergne of Field Art Projects.

Davis and Jones

Davis & Jones is the collaborative partnership of Eleanor Wynne Davis and Deborah Aguirre Jones.

Both artists have lived and worked in Bristol for over 10 years, with young people, older folks and families. Their work celebrates connections and relationships between people and the places where they live, work and play.

Jones is a visual artist working with the connections that we inherit, invent, or simply yearn for. She creates unusual encounters that are easy, respectful and light, interspersing them with provocations and humour. These trigger conversations full of the stories, meanings, daydreams and fears bound up with the place. Sometimes they shift perspectives.

Davis is an artist and musician working with ideas and interventions. She is interested in the power of actions and how the hidden affects the seen. Looking for ways to bring these connections into the open she creates situations of safety in which people can engage with new experiences.

Southmead Hospital

Southmead Hospital Bristol is a £430m new hospital for Bristol developed by the NHS Trust and PFI developers Carillion. The hospital is an 800 bed acute hospital built on the existing Southmead site.

The public arts programme led by Willis Newson was part of the PFI initiative and built on research which clearly demonstrates the direct benefits for patients of incorporating visual and performing arts into the hospital environment.

Willis Newson

Willis Newson is a leading Bristol-based independent arts consultancy specialising in creative approaches to improving health and wellbeing.  It develops & delivers public art strategies for new builds and refurbishments,  manages public engagement programmes, offers an affordable design service for healthcare and provides advice and guidance on using art & design to create healthy environment.

Willis Newson was established in 2001 and has since carried out over 200 projects for more than 31 NHS Trusts, as well as working on projects for private healthcare clients, contractors and architects.

  • Commissioner

    North Bristol NHS Foundation Trust

  • Produced by

    Willis Newson

  • Partners

    Carillion; BDP; Field Art Projects

  • Supported by

    North Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, Carillion