Photo by Jamie BrightmorePhoto by Mark LetherenExultate Singers performing onboardNight time photoshoot for N-MagazineImage by Paul BoxCobwebs within a cabinJeanne MarieCabin detailsMorning mistImage by Chris JonesMorning mistNight time photoshoot with N-MagazineImage by Paul BoxSunlightGrey GullImage by Paul BoxImage by Paul BoxWithdrawn

In 2015 visitors to Leigh Woods in Bristol had an unexpected encounter with a flotilla of abandoned fishing boats installed in the depths of the woodland.

A beautiful, surreal and poetic vision in the woods, the sound of the wind in the trees is reminiscent of the sound of waves. All of the boats are pointing the same way as if turned by the tide or moving together.

Miles from the sea, how did they get there? Were they left by a receding tidal surge or a changing coast line? Or was this the effect of over fishing, causing fish stocks to collapse and with it the industry? This thought-provoking and engaging installation promoted the discussion of climate change, extreme weather, falling fish stocks and our impact on the marine environment.

Withdrawn was an installation artwork by UK artist Luke Jerram. The project was commissioned by the National Trust’s Trust New Art programme and was delivered in partnership with Forestry Commission England’s Forest Art Works programme as part of Bristol 2015.

The artwork was designed for the public to stumble upon and explore in the woodland. The installation was also a venue for a series of events taking place over the summer. Bought from Ebay and Gumtree for just a few hundred pounds, the old boats were decommissioned by the artist and made safe for their installation. As well as engines and fuel tanks being removed, the decks were reinforced to allow performances to take place on board. The boats’ rigging was stripped down and simplified, to highlight their simple sculptural forms.

Installation process by Drew Cox

A Venue for Discussion and Creative Collaborations

The boats were used as a site for special marine and environmental discussions, sound installations, theatrical performances and interactive workshops, staged both in the daytime and at night. Go to Events page

Pdf map of the woodland with the artwork.
Pdf of the visitors Guide

More about the artwork



Inside the cabin, the contents left behind by the previous boat owners, remained. Life jackets, compasses, log books and even old spectacles; these remnants were covered in cobwebs and dust. On the outside of the boats, scratches left by the fishing nets being drawn in and barnacles could even be found waiting in hope for the tide to turn.

At the end of the project, the boats were given away. See impact

Timelapse film by Jamie Brightmore

Free Children’s Book

Children's story telling on boardChildren's book about the boatsChildren's book about the

The Bristol Giants & the Severn Seas written by Oliver Rigby and illustrated by Tom Bonson, follows Goram & Ghyston’s adventures and shares the story of how the boats of Withdrawn came to be in the middle of Leigh Woods, to the surprise of children across Bristol.

“The idea is that if parents read this story to their children at bedtime, they can then surprise them the next day with a visit to Leigh Woods to allow them to discover the fishing boats” said Luke.

You can now download your free copy of The Bristol Giants & the Severn Seas from

Press Area

Imagery from this website can be used for blogs and other sites, but must be credited as labelled. If unlabelled, then they are from Luke Jerram.

Contact Luke Jerram’s team for High Res imagery.