Jacqueline Poncelet (Southmead Hospital)

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


As part of the development of Southmead Hospital Bristol, British artist Jacqueline Poncelet was commissioned to create a series of garden screens to provide privacy and space for quiet conversation in the private Medical Day Gardens, an area which is only accessible to patients and staff.


Poncelet’s background is in ceramics and she is well-known for her early work in bone china and more sculptural ceramic work.  From this, she has extended her practice to include painting, sculpture, installation and public art commissions.

The development of Southmead Hospital Bristol integrated a major public art programme, featuring the work of nationally and internationally recognised artists, including Jacqueline Poncelet who created work for the courtyard of the new building.

Jacqueline is often drawn to changes in light and weather and juxtapositions of object and natural growth.  For the Southmead Hospital commission she created a sequence of stainless steel free-standing screens depicting a pattern of gingko leaves, together with seating arrangements.

The screens cast shadows, making patches of dappled light and provide spaces in which patients and staff may simply sit in privacy or engage with nature. The softly polished surfaces reflect ambient colour, subtly changing as the light moves over them. Privacy and quiet spaces in hospitals are very important and these will be both beautiful and functional.

The screens are sited between carefully chosen seating to create beautiful spaces in which patients and staff may sit, engage with nature, be private or take a breath of fresh air. Jacqueline consulted with staff from renal, chemotherapy and medical day departments about her ideas as she developed her designs.

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.

Jacqueline Poncelet

Jaqueline Poncelet studied ceramics at Wolverhapton College of Art (1965-1969), then the Royal College of Art (1969-1972), and was a major figure on the international ceramics scene in the 1970s and 80s. In the early 1990s she diversified to include painting, sculpture and public art commissions in her practice. Her highly intuitive, rhythmically patterned abstract paintings were shown in the exhibition ‘Ideal Home’ at Marsden Woo Gallery in November/December 2011. In 2000 Poncelet was one of the three curators of the British Art Show, and collaboration has become an increasingly important part of her work. She has lectured at a number of institutions, including the Royal College of Art and the University of Brighton, and has exhibited her work internationally in numerous solo and group shows. Poncelet’s work can be seen in many public collections, including that of the V&A, London, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Royal Scottish Museum, Edinburgh, and National Museum of Victoria, Australia.

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.


  • Commissioner

    North Bristol NHS Foundation Trust

  • Produced by

    Willis Newson

  • Partners

    Carillion; BDP; Field Art Projects

  • Supported by

    North Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, Carillion