We have made our way through Leigh Woods many times since moving to Bristol. Across the suspension bridge and along the road past high towering homes, the path becomes greener and greener as you walk towards the National Trust woods. Over the road from Ashton Court, the bustling noises pass by quickly and Leigh Woods welcomes you in for a refreshing, elongated breath of calm. I’ve loved exploring the woods at different times of year; from dark thick bare bark to flurries of bluebells and the hint of light emerald in the trees, then to even brighter blankets of green and an array of blooms before reds, oranges and yellows take hold in the canopies and create new paths of colour throughout the woodland.
Walking through Leigh Woods during the spring and summer months of 2015 presents a very different sight for visitors. Between the trees in the middle of the woods an obscure scene begins to unfold. ‘Withdrawn’, a significant installation piece by Luke Jerram, begins to take shape in amongst the tall grasses, trees and wild flowers.
The intangible scene – a collection of boats in the woods. The ships appear abandoned, left to traverse the woodland rather than crashing waves. Their colourful sea-battered sides stand between the sturdy trees with pride. Ready to meet the waters again? Or accepting of their fate away from the comfort of their natural surroundings?
Looking down, the view is full of juxtaposition – the obscurity of seeing the boats sitting amongst the dry grasses and scuffed soil sends a message of confusion and mystery. Still, the way Jerram has constructed the scene, it appears that the woodland floor has accepted the rudders and anchors of the boats. Or maybe the act of time, wind and weather has given the ships a chance to sink into the ground and gradually be surrounded by the blossoming life and sprouting plants of the season.
Luke Jerram’s installation will stay in Leigh Woods until the 6th September 2015 – and after that, what can we do to ensure we don’t experience the unfamiliar view of ships amongst the trees again?
Everything Bristol does as European Green Capital of 2015 is to raise awareness of our changing environment. Around the city and beyond Bristol we can already make note of the negative effects of pollution and climate change but steps are being made towards a more sustainable city. From the eco friendly homes of Hanham Hall, to Skipchen and the Severn project, Bristol and its inhabitants are happily and actively seeing how many changes can be made now.
Many people have questioned the effectiveness of art installations such as Withdrawn but if we’re talking about it, it must mean we’re passion about its insight.