Fresh Arts Festival

The Fresh arts festival celebrates the opening of the Brunel building at Southmead hospital Bristol

A festival of arts events and activities celebrates creativity and wellbeing at Southmead Hospital Bristol.

The three day Fresh Arts Festival will bring poetic first aid, a knitting installation, model car racing, promenade theatre, music on the wards, and a programme of activities to celebrate the opening of the new building.

The wider public art programme features the work of nationally and internationally recognised artists to animate spaces and create special places within the hospital building and grounds.

Project leaders Willis Newson were commissioned by the developers of the new site, Carillion. 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.

During the Fresh Arts Festival, patients, staff, visitors, families and local residents will be able to experience and learn about the role that art is playing in creating a better patient environment. Performances, workshops and activities will celebrate the role that the arts are playing in bringing the building to life and connecting to the communities who use it.

Promenade style theatre performances will draw on stories and memories of hospital life, collected from staff and local people during a series of writing workshops. Show of Strength Theatre Company will perform throughout the hospital.

The Emergency Poet will provide poetry on prescription – a mix of the serious, the therapeutic and the theatrical. Poet and writer Deborah Alma will offer consultations and prescribe poems.

Writer in residence Sue Mayfield will explore the things that people need, love and care about most. Working with patients and visitors, she will shape a ‘lifeline’ of poetry. Spike Printmakers will set up drop-in workshops in the hospital Atrium throughout the festival.

Knitiffi knitter Ali Brown will work with community groups, staff and patients to demonstrate the therapeutic nature of knitting, while creating a special installation for the hospital entrance. The aim of Knitiffi – or knit graffiti – is to enhance everyday objects in the environment and to bring together community groups.

Live musical performances by Superact and by local choirs will take place on wards and in waiting areas around the hospital.

The final day of the Festival will be marked by staging a Speed Derby in the hospital atrium – the culmination of a series of workshops to help staff teams from across both old sites come together to identify with and take ownership of their new working environment. During the workshops, led by artists Assemble and Join, staff designed and created their own model cars to race on a specially created track built around the building.

The festival is part of a public art programme which involves patients, staff and the wider community. It features the 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.

The Fresh Arts Festival takes place from Thursday 16 to Saturday 18 October. All events and activities are free, and open to patients, staff, visitors, families and local residents. Click here for a programme of events.