How It All Started…

View from Craster Lifeboat Station (Half Plate Tintype)

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There’s no two ways about it, I’ve been a lifelong enthusiast and supporter of the RNLI since joining Storm Force at the age of 10. At that age, I simply loved Lifeboats and the notion of the RNLI family.

My dreams were simple: I wanted to be a Lifeboatman and a photographer or, ideally, both.

I guess I’m halfway there — a photographer now, though still yearning to be a Lifeboatman one day.

Whilst entertaining those dreams, I’ve spent a lot of time pondering how I could bring together my love of photography, the sea and the RNLI.

Gradually, the idea came to me of producing a stunning body of work, whilst simultaneously raising funds for my favourite charity.

The Lifeboat Station Project was born.

You can read about the project mission in more detail here.

Preliminary Work in Craster & Amble…

Earlier this year, I proposed my idea to the RNLI and, like me, they were very excited about it. So, a date in July was set for a meeting.

Ahead of that meeting, I really wanted to make some work to illustrate my thinking as clearly possible. As I’m based in Newcastle upon Tyne, it made sense to visit a couple of local stations.

I chose Craster and Amble in Northumberland — two very different stations that I thought would begin to capture the concept — and spent a few days making some plates on glass and metal…

Half Plate Tintype by Jack Lowe, wet plate collodion
View from Craster Lifeboat Station (Half Plate Tintype)
Half Plate Ambrotype by Jack Lowe, wet plate collodion
The view from Amble Lifeboat Station (Half Plate Ambrotype)

The resulting plates look beautiful. Bringing to life an idea that had been in my head for so long was a joy.

Online, it’s impossible to put across the nature of these very special one-off objects; I often describe the Ambrotypes as being like glass time capsules.

Their unique qualities give more the air of a photographic sculpture, a true drawing with light as the word ‘photography’ was indeed intended to convey.

The Lifeboat Station Project, Amble
Neena parked up in Amble…

Fundraising for the RNLI…

Over the course of The Lifeboat Station Project, I will be releasing a print edition from each Ambrotype to raise funds for the RNLI.

Each print will be made on gorgeous 16×20″ Hahnemühle Museum Etching 350gsm — numbered, signed, embossed and fully annotated on the reverse.

The Lifeboat Station Project, Edition Print
‘The View from Craster Lifeboat Station’, numbered, signed and embossed 16×20″ Archival Pigment Print on Hahnemühle Museum Etching 350gsm
The Lifeboat Station Project, Edition Print
Print Detail: ‘The View from Craster Lifeboat Station’

Perhaps you have a favourite Lifeboat Station or you particularly like one or more of the photographs?

In which case, keep track of the project as the itinerary unfolds and use the Contact Jack page to reserve your print(s) as they become available.

Numbers will be strictly limited to 50 prints per plate and sold on a first-come, first-served basis — once they’re gone, they’re gone!

There will be a book published too (more details in due course).

Behind the Scenes with the BBC…

Even though I was at the preliminary stages of planning the project, the local BBC Look North team were keen to be involved from the very beginning.

So, they spent a day with me in Craster and put together this piece, broadcast a few days later in their much sought-after pastoral slot:

The Lifeboat Station Project by Jack Lowe on the BBC
Click to see a short film on the BBC describing the beginnings of project…

The Lifeboat Station Project by Jack Lowe on the BBC

Some images I published at the time via @LordLowe

The Lifeboat Station Project, Craster
While the reporter and cameraman strategised, I switched my camera to Gooseberry Mode…
The Lifeboat Station Project, Craster
Filming through through the back of my camera…
The Lifeboat Station Project, Craster
Reporting in full-flow…
Half Plate Tintype by Jack Lowe, wet plate collodion
BBC Look North reporter, Andrew Hartley, in Craster — an image I made to fade into for the end of his report.

Aiming for a September start…

So, this all provided a great foundation for my meeting at the RNLI headquarters with Neena after which, I was so pleased to receive their blessing and full support.

The Lifeboat Station Project by Jack Lowe
Neena and I were summoned to the RNLI headquarters in Poole. We dutifully attended…

I must confess, it was a great moment to pass under the barrier and park Neena among the buildings.

I hadn’t been to the headquarters since I was 11 years old when I persuaded my Mum to take me along to an Open Day. Those feelings of childhood excitement were evoked all over again.

The RNLI campus has really grown since that visit — in particular, to see the shipyard under construction dedicated to building All Weather Lifeboats on-site was quite something.

The Lifeboat Station Project by Jack Lowe
That’s my kinda meeting room view!

Tracking the Project…

So, we’re now pulling together the logistics to get the project underway — currently aiming for a September start in Norfolk.

The best way to track the project as the itinerary unfolds is to follow the Twitter feed and Facebook page.

I shall look forward to seeing you there!

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