Laura Ford (Southmead Hospital)

Laura Ford, Southmead Hospital, 2014. Photo © Max McClure, courtesy of the artist and Willis Newson.


British artist Laura Ford was commissioned to develop a series of new landmark artworks across the Southmead Hospital Bristol estate. Ford created ‘Patient Patients’ - life-size bronze animals welcoming and drawing people through the hospital site along key axes to the main entrance, and contributing to the unique sense of identity for the new building and grounds.


The development of Southmead Hospital Bristol integrated a major public art programme, featuring the work of nationally and internationally recognised artists, including Laura Ford who created a series of five bronze sculptures of injured animals which act as landmarks in the key zones of the hospital, connecting them and drawing people across the hospital site.

A bear with a sore back, a prairie dog with an injured neck and an elephant with a lump in his trunk will be seen in the Lime Tree Park approach leading to the main entrance of the new hospital from Southmead Road.

On the Square, outside the main entrance, will be a lion with a bandaged paw. Three monkey sculptures have been installed near the entrance to the Emergency Department on Dorian Way where they sit nursing their injured limbs.

In creating the art works Ford's aim was to create memorable characters that would become ‘familiar friends’ to hospital users and the public.

Each sculpture was cast in bronze from a rubber mould created from an original clay and wax model made in Laura’s London studio.

Installation of the bronze animals took place in stages to coincide with completion of the landscape works at Southmead Hospital Bristol.

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.

Laura Ford

Laura Ford, one of the foremost female sculptors currently working in the UK, came to prominence in the British Art Show 5 2000 organised by the Hayward Gallery, which toured to Edinburgh, Southampton, Cardiff and Birmingham Museums. Her socially and politically charged figures exist between the realms of fantasy and reality, childhood and adulthood.  Ford works with a variety of materials, often using what is to hand, from fabric and found objects, to more traditional materials such as bronze and plaster.

Ford represented Wales at the Venice Biennale 51 in 2005.  Recent solo exhibitions include Camden Arts Centre, London, Arnolfini, Bristol, Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh and the Centre of Contemporary Art, Salamanca to name a few.  She has also recently exhibited at the Aldrich Museum, Connecticut in Into My World curated by Stephen Hepworth; Artists Favourites at the ICA, London; Disguise at Manchester City Art Gallery; and Wreckers at Houldsworth, London and Beaconsfield, London; Figuratively Speaking at Miami Art Museum; and Size Matters: Exploring Scale in the Arts Council Collection, a Hayward Gallery touring show; Sleeping and Dreaming, Wellcome Collection, London; Rag and Bone, Turner Contemporary, Margate; Wanderland, Fundament Foundation, Tilburg.  Ford’s work is in numerous collections including Tate, the Arts Council, Contemporary Art Society, Government Art Collection, New Art Gallery, Walsall, Miami Art Museum, Museum of Art, Iowa, V&A Museum, London and the West Collection, Pennsylvania.

Southmead Hospital Bristol

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 environments.

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.