I wrote these words earlier today and shared them on Facebook and Instagram. I’ve been overwhelmed by the reaction both on and offline. My heartfelt thanks to everyone for your kind support.
Rather than becoming buried in the ephemeral world of social media, I’d like to share these personal thoughts here too. After all, I guess it’s a landmark on the Project that needs to be remembered just like any other, perhaps more so…
Over the last three years, I haven’t been so good at showing the down times on the road. In an effort to keep the Project as a ‘good news story’, I’ve become extremely skilled at masking any difficulties. In short, people close to me have been saying I make it look too easy.
So, I’m going to have a go at describing one of those down times. And this one’s very recent.
When I’d completed the work at Valentia, the RNLI asked if I’d make a piece-to-camera to commemorate my 100th station, a little clip to share online.
I find this outtake slightly funny but mostly hard viewing. As you can see, I just couldn’t get it right and this was about the tenth time of trying. Duncan (filming it) would probably laugh out loud and tell me it was much more than that!
Anyway, I was utterly shattered and there’s a general level of distress in my body language.
Those emotions are partly born out of finishing my largest trip to date. However, a deep fatigue had also set in that I’m only just managing to shake off now.
In those moments, all the stresses and strains of trying to keep the show on the road were slapping me hard and I was coming a little bit undone. As ever for many people, most of those stresses and strains simply boil down to money.
Making The LSP is incredibly expensive (emotionally and financially) and, of course, when I’m on the road the bills don’t stop at home either. Over the last three years, I’ve been living hour-by-hour at times trying to join the financial dots.
All the while, I’ve had to block it out of my mind in an effort to concentrate on making the work of my life.
Phrases like, “one of the largest photographic projects ever attempted” can trip off the tongue all too easily. With 100 stations under my belt, I’m now in the nitty gritty and I really have a sense of the true scale of this project.
Ultimately, I’m honoured beyond words to be making this archive. It’s a privilege spending time with so many lifeboat volunteers, preserving their bravery and devotion for future generations.
It’s taken three weeks but, thankfully, I’m gradually starting to recover mentally and physically from the moments in this video clip.
Find out how you can help keep the Project on the road:
The work I made in Cork and Kerry will be online soon, alongside the Waterford photographs I published last week. There’ll also be some new additions to the Shop, so stay tuned for more news on that front!
And what about the video clip for the RNLI? Thankfully, Duncan kept me on the straight and narrow in those moments of distress. I’ll share the final piece with you tomorrow…
Thank you to everybody who’s supported The LSP to date, whether giving me time, purchasing through The Shop, making a donation (in its many forms), providing accommodation or even buying me a pint.
Most of all, thank you to the lifeboat volunteers without whom the Project wouldn’t exist.
You all know who you are and you’re all helping to create something historical and special.
UPDATE (Sunday 29th October)
With Duncan’s help in Valentia a month ago, I was able to gather my thoughts, press the reset button and make this thank you message for the RNLI to share online.
I cannot thank you enough for the all the messages, warmth and support on the back of this blog post and yesterday’s posts. It’s been very moving.
Furthermore, I feel very fortunate and grateful to be in a situation where people feel so appreciative and enthusiastic about the work I’m making. So, thank you once again.
Hard work? When I were a lad we worked 32 hours a day and had nowt to eat but the empty skin of a turnip. Chin up. X
As ever, George. X
Jack, thanks for sharing this personal message. I can tell you that as a follower and admirer of the project I am in awe of the personal commitment of you, your family and your friends. It is truly an inspiration to many of us. While I live in Canada, I was recently in Whitby and was able to visit first hand the RNLI station, a real treat. One of the highlights for me was to see your picture proudly displayed on the walls. I too volunteer in marine rescue and while no where near the scale of the RNLI, our passion and commitment is no less for what we do. I get a real sense that you too have that same passion and commitment and it comes across clearly in the work that you do. Do not be afraid to share the toll it takes on you as that, at least to me, inspires me to continue to do all I can do to help. I love the t-shirts you sell and one day hope to purchase at least one of your prints. In a perfect world, I would be honoured to help support one of your future missions in person. While that may not ever happen, never doubt that there are many people who support and admire the strength and conviction you have shown to this project. Keep up the great work and stay strong!
Thank you very much for making the time to write such a heart-warming and generous comment, Ivan. It’s well-received and much-appreciated. With best wishes, Jack
Jack, you are a true historian in the work that you have elected to do. You are amazing! So glad you realised what your body and mind were telling you. I support the RNLI and the lifeboat station in Poole. My future son in law is a lifeboat volunteer. Rest well Jack & get back to full health in mind and body.
Thank you, Ann.
Ah, Jack, when your developing tiredness, your fixing to be exhausted, feeling all washed out and even hung out to dry it’s time to go back to the dark room, lay down and have a shutter eye…but your still in the picture and in focus and we all say a BIG THANK YOU! Chris
Jack, completely in awe of you and of the project as always. Your frank post and video is a testament to the scale of what you are doing and the personal risks and sacrifices you have made to get this far. Hold steady, and rest safe in the knowledge that if it was easy some other sucker would have done it before now. The end result will be worth it all, of that I am certain.
My print has pride of place in my kitchen, where I look at it every day. I was proud to have had my photo taken, heaven knows the pride you must feel.
Thank you so much for your kind words, Simon. I couldn’t do it without people like you behind me — the Cardigan visit was such a highlight and I’m so pleased that it (and you) feature in Pete’s film on the Cinema page. And, of course, I love that you started the keyring craze as well. So, thank you for everything…not least your message here. Best wishes, Jack
How wonderful that the Life Boat Volunteers made that plaque for you! It shows how much you and your work are treasured, for them to conceive of this and follow through to have it made for you. What an honor! I was really moved by that!
Thank you for making the time to have a read, Beth. Best wishes, Jack