Co-produced by The Arts and Culture Programme, University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust and Super Culture.
On 1 April 2020, two hospital trusts joined to form University Hospitals Bristol & Weston NHS Foundation Trust (UHBW). Super Culture and the Arts Programme at UHBW have worked closely together to develop new creative initiatives in Weston-super-Mare that support regional well-being and that have national impact. Re-imagining Weston’s history as a health resort for the 21st Century and shining a light on provision that exists year-round in the town to help people feel good.
Weston Arts + Health Weekender 2023
To mark this the 75th anniversary of the NHS, the annual Weston Arts + Health Festival returned to the town 29 September – 1 October 2023 for a weekend of celebratory events, with a diverse programme of events themed around 75 years of extraordinary stories in a special Happy Birthday homage to the NHS.
Taking place at favourite locations and outdoor spaces in the town and at Weston General Hospital, there was something for everyone to enjoy – from swimming, rowing, singing, theatre, poetry, yoga, creative workshops and community artwork to a series of exhilarating coastal walks in partnership with Natural England to mark the launch of the new North Somerset stretch of the King Charles III Coastal Path.
On Sunday 1 October, local NHS stories featured within a new audio commission and bespoke soundscape created for SW!M 75. SW!M 75 is a live synchro inspired performance, co-produced with Diverse City and supported by National Grid’s Community Matters Fund and it showcased Weston’s newly established Super Synchro group, who made a stunning routine to complement real stories by NHS workers.
Co-Directed by Claire Hodgson and Deborah Paige
Choreographed by Claire Hodgson
Audio Created by Deborah Paige
Sound by Harry Bassett
Weston Arts + Health Festival 2022
Building on the success of the 2021 festival, University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust (UHBW) and Culture Weston once again collaborated in October to produce Weston Arts + Health Festival 2022. This year the festival focused on ‘Global Weston’, celebrating the power of creativity and culture for connection and showcasing Weston as a vibrant and diverse place to live and work.
Central to the festival was a photography project celebrating the unique stories of Weston General Hospital’s many and valued staff. The exhibition was installed at Princess Royal Square for the festival and throughout October. Many visited to share in the stories of some of the fantastic people who care for the community of Weston.
From 5-9 October, Weston’s parks, allotments, cafes and seafront were alive with bandstand performances, pop-up poetry, singing trails, community feasts, synchronised swimming, outdoor craft as well as a special programme of events at Weston General Hospital. With something for everyone, Weston Arts + Health Festival 2022 explored and showcased the impact of creativity on health and wellbeing. In the Arts Council England’s Creative Health & Wellbeing plan, published this year, Chair Sir Nicholas Serota shares that “by ensuring everyone in the country has access to high quality creative and cultural activities, they will, in turn, lead happier and healthier lives.”
Weston Arts + Health Week 2021
Thousands of people in Weston and throughout the area joined in the second Weston Arts + Health Week as over 45 live and online activities were hosted by the town in a packed programme of events that took place throughout Weston, in health and care settings and in green, open spaces.
Presented in partnership between Culture Weston and the Arts & Culture Programme at University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust (UHBW) from 18 to 26 September, at the heart of the pioneering collaboration, was Luke Jerram’s stunning artwork ‘In Memoriam’. It was the Festival’s privilege to commission this artwork which toured the UK and was also hailed as a cultural highlight of the year by Darren Henley CEO Arts Council England. For more information see https://memoriamartwork.com
Situated on the beach, the poignant installation of over 100 flags created from hospital bedsheets provided a temporary memorial for the public to visit and remember all that we have lost from the Covid-19 pandemic and pay tribute to the NHS.
During the nine-day event, In Memoriam and its stunning coastal backdrop was the setting for a series of immersive performances, including a fire-lit NHS procession and the soothing sounds of Costanzi Consort chamber choir on the opening weekend to a festival finale filled with dance, poetry and song.
The premiere of a new dance commission, created and performed amongst the flags by the internationally renowned ‘Studio Wayne McGregor’, alongside dance students from Weston College took place on Friday 24 September in front of a mesmerised audience and to the haunting soundtrack ‘A Moment in Time’, composed by Dan Jones and featuring amongst the talent, Massive Attack and Portishead. An inspiring light installation ‘Recovery Poems’ by Emergency Exit Arts gave pause for thought as people stopped to reflect upon the emotive words.
Thousands of adult NHS patients across the UK have enjoyed a dose of creativity thanks to our ‘Boredom Buster’ publications, delivered to hospitals all over the UK.
Two 48-page tabloid style newspapers, inspired by the beloved Summer Annual formula, were produced for the NHS National Performance Advisory group for Arts, Design and Heritage in Hospitals, by University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust (UHBW) in partnership with Culture Weston.
The Summer 2020 bumper first edition is packed with articles, activities and images designed to boost mood and alleviate anxiety and provides an individual, interactive kit of creative items. As well as reading, patients are encouraged to immerse themselves in drawing, writing, tearing and folding to make each copy their own.
‘Boredom Buster’s’ superpower is its eclectic range of contributions from famous artists, arts therapists and professional creative health specialists. The wealth of contributors include Antony Gormley, Martin Parr, Sarah Hickson, David Dimbleby, Jeremy Deller, Mark Ravenhill, Patrick Gale, Kalpna Woolf, Luke Jerram, Wayne McGregor, Manoj Malde, Dr Phil Hammond and Dr Lizzie Burns, founder of the ‘Anti-boredom Campaign’.
The ‘Boredom Buster’ Annual can be dipped in and out of and contains a variety of themed pages to creatively engage a broad demographic of adult patients, with spreads on history, art, science, poetry, writing, photography, fashion, music, dance, travel, food, outdoors and well-being.
No Summer Annual would be complete without a healthy dose of seaside air. Martin Parr’s iconic photographs bring ice cream and knotted handkerchiefs, Kalpna Woolf’s picnic pages take us to coastlines around the world, whilst the history of Donald McGill’s saucy postcards might raise an eyebrow or two.
There is plenty more besides to entertain. Play travel games, read aloud from Mark Ravenhill’s playlet, trace around your fingers, fold an origami heart or tear out Antony Gormley’s string of paper figures. Green-fingered readers can dream up their ideal garden with a bit of help from Chelsea Flower Show designer Manoj Malde, potential writers can read up on novelist Patrick Gale’s top tips or feel the flow of poetry in the NHS anthology ‘These Are The Hands’.
Line up your bedside view with Alan Lightman’s look at Symmetry; discover the secret of good health with Dr Phil Hammond’s daily prescription of CLANGERS; dance the Macarena whilst sitting down; sing along to Bastille or hum your own top Tropical tunes. Salute street artist Stewy’s artwork of NHS hero Aneurin Bevan and marvel at the Universe with Luke Jerram’s Moon and Gaia.
‘Boredom Buster’ Two
Bringing a blast of the great outdoors to hospital bedsides the length and breadth of the country, including all ten of the UHBW sites, the 48 page, Spring 2021 issue of Boredom Buster’s pages brim with articles, images and activities that provide talking points and windows to the natural world, drawing upon extensive research that proves a connection between nature and good health.
Free to patients, ‘Boredom Buster’ Two was produced in response to growing demand following the successful launch of the first ‘Boredom Buster’ newspaper, of which more than 40,000 copies were delivered to patients and residents through the national network of arts programmers with the publication receiving widespread acclaim and feedback.
Anna Farthing, former Arts Programme Director, UHBW, said: “The pandemic has shown us that individual creativity can support psychological health and wellbeing, even when the circumstances of our physical health are beyond our control. The ‘Boredom Buster’ format invites people to express themselves by making over its pages so that each copy becomes personalised. The engaging activities have been carefully researched and curated to provide talking points, encouraging meaningful connection with other people and evoking sensory memories of the natural world. We hope that for long stay patients and care home residents, Boredom Buster will feel like a breath of fresh air.”
In ‘Boredom Buster’ Two readers are invited to take part in First Site artist activities with Grayson Perry, Mark Titchner and Bob and Roberta Smith; radiate in the colours of Damien Hirst’s ‘Butterfly Rainbow’; climb a mountain with Black Girls Hike; embrace the positive power of Biophilia with Great Ormond Street Hospital; explore classic paintings with Cambridge Museums; imagine historical adventures with English Heritage, and remember loved ones with Luke Jerram’s ‘In Memoriam’, an outdoor artwork commissioned in 2020 by Culture Weston and University Hospitals Bristol and Weston.
The newspaper features an engaging mix of content covering an array of topics including nature, art, science, literature, history, poetry, yoga, wellbeing, origami and more. Designed to appeal to a wide demographic of people, it provides interactive pages to encourage conversation and creativity, enhance cognitive skills, boost mood, alleviate anxiety and help keep patients occupied. As well as reading, patients can personalise their individual copies by drawing, writing, tearing and folding their way through the pages.
This ‘Boredom Buster’ newspaper was distributed to NHS Foundation Trusts and Hospital Charities throughout the country, including Bristol, Weston, Bath, Taunton, Yeovil, Sheffield, Derby, York, Coventry, Cambridge, Oxford, Liverpool and Kent, and in London at Great Ormond Street Hospital, University College London, the Royal Brompton and the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity. It was also delivered to care homes in Weston, as part of Culture Weston and UHBW’s on-going Arts + Health programme in the town.
The Weston Arts + Health Weekender!
This inaugural festival was a celebration of wholeness and togetherness; the joining of two hospital Trusts to form University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust on 1st April, and the launch of Culture Weston.
At at time of new beginnings and new partnerships across placemaking, the arts and healthcare, the festival looked back at Weston’s truly super history as a health resort, celebrated the many and varied opportunities to get creative that are on offer now, and looked forward to establishing Weston as a beacon for Arts and Health in the future.
The Weston Arts + Health Weekender was designed as a whole community collaboration. Creative workshops, walks and talks, performances music, medical seminars, hospital based arts activities and much more, magically mingling across the town to create a unique programme with something for everyone.
Whilst lockdown due to Covid-19 meant the festival could not go ahead in its original form, we instead launched with an online event on 3 April 2020, and events such as Boredom Buster and Poetry + Health sprung from the Weekender partnership to maintain a spirit of creative connection whatever the circumstances.
At home with culture
Many of us feel isolated and lonely at points in our lives, perhaps never more so than in the challenging times wrought by the pandemic. Luckily we live in a digital age where all sorts of creative projects can be enjoyed and easily accessed from anywhere. Here is a series of short videos from some of the brilliant artists who were part of The Weston Arts + Health Weekender programme. They are mainly self-filmed on mobile phones in lounges, kitchens, bedrooms and bathrooms. We hope they will continue to spread a little happiness and encourage you to find pleasure in being creative at home.
Poetry + Health
The ‘Poetry + Health’ event on 26 June 2020 celebrated the success of the These Are The Hands NHS Poetry Anthology, the first poetry collection to feature poems by NHS staff –
“A wonderful anthology to celebrate the NHS, which is itself the best poem a country has ever written” – Stephen Fry.
The online poetry evening was curated by Beth Calverley, founder of ‘The Poetry Machine’, Poet in Residence at UHBW and contributor to the These Are The Hands collection. She was joined by fellow UHBW colleagues and poets also reading their entries from the anthology.
Katrina Curtis, Respiratory Physician at UHBW and Rachel McCoubrie, Consultant in Palliative Medicine and lead wellbeing consultant for doctors and dentists, UHBW.
Other poets taking part were Helen Sheppard, a Bristol-based poet and former Neonatal Midwife also published in These Are The Hands; Dr Elizabeth Osmond, Neonatologist and facilitator of a staff creative writing group for reflective practice sessions, UHBW; Stephen Lightbown, a Bristol-based poet, champion of disability rights and Director of Comms at North Bristol NHS Trust (NBT) and Bob Walton, a published poet who co-runs the ‘Chapter 1’ creative writing group in Weston in association with Theatre Orchard, free, open to all sessions .
“’Poetry + Health’ is a celebration of Weston and Bristol based poets who blend the worlds of poetry and health. As Poet in Residence for UHBW, I see first-hand the benefit that poetry can have on people who are isolated, anxious and unwell, as well as the joy and confidence it can bring to people from all walks of life.” Beth Calverley