Lifeboat crews from the UK and Ireland are the stars of a new calendar that is part of an epic photographic project aiming to highlight the history of lifeboat stations across the UK.
The calendar features Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) volunteer crews from all round the coast; the coxswain from Penlee; the iconic lifeboat station at Bembridge; the old and new lifeboat stations at St Davids in Wales, and a historic lifeboat that saved troops from the beaches of Dunkirk, among others.
All the images were taken by photographer Jack Lowe as part of his epic mission to visit all 238 RNLI lifeboat stations in the UK and Republic of Ireland, to photograph each one using Wet Plate Collodion, a Victorian process that allows him to record images on glass.
Jack, who lives in Newcastle upon Tyne, travels in ‘Neena’ — his decommissioned NHS ambulance purchased on eBay and converted into a mobile darkroom.
The ambitious eight-year odyssey is a huge photographic undertaking and when finished, will be the first complete record of every single lifeboat station on the RNLI network.
The 2019 Lifeboat Station Project calendar is the first calendar Jack has produced on his journey. He says that he hopes it will serve two purposes: one, to raise awareness of the work of the brave volunteer crews of the RNLI, and two, to support him in his attempt to immortalise them.
Jack’s work is largely self-funded and he relies on sales of merchandise and the backing of his supporters to keep his project on the road.
Jack said: “I hope this calendar will be an easy way for people to show their support for my project – and that my images of lifeboats and lifeboat crews will inspire them throughout the New Year. People who buy it are helping me to create an historic archive, preserving a vital slice of island life for future generations.”
The 13-month calendar is made up of images from Bembridge, Union Hall, Clovelly, Portree, Margate, Mallaig, The Mumbles, Tenby, St Davids, Port Isaac, Penlee, Wells-next-the-Sea and Fishguard.
Many of the images have already appeared in national galleries and the national press. Jack’s photographs have attracted a great deal of attention, even though he is only half way through his journey.
He is also due to be featured in a major RNLI exhibition entitled Calm Before the Storm: The Art of Photographing Lifeboats at Poole Museum next year.
Since he began The Lifeboat Station Project, Jack has photographed over 2,000 RNLI volunteers, driven over 28,000 miles, which is more than once round the world, and used about 8,400 litres of fuel.
When Jack reached the half way point in Dover in September, RNLI Chief Executive Paul Boissier said: “Jack’s work is not only an artistic triumph, but a fantastic way in which to raise awareness of the RNLI through this unique imagery. His extraordinary journey has touched the hearts of many and will be remembered for years to come both as a captivating story and through the stunning images that will be his legacy.”
The project is scheduled to be completed in 2020.
The calendar is available from Jack’s website for £15 plus P&P and is also available to buy at Poole Museum shop.
Photo credit: Jack Lowe / The Lifeboat Station Project.
Caption: Guy Willing, Coxswain at Bembridge RNLI, holding the calendar that features his station.