By this point in 2020, I’d fully expected to be on my final mission of the year. September, you see, is the last month of my wet collodion season — the period during which I can practically work on the coast with such an old photographic process.
But things haven’t worked out as expected for any of us, have they? Indeed, this is my first September at home for six years!
For example, on this day in 2017, I was photographing the lifeboat volunteers of Helvick Head, working my way along the Irish coast for the first time…
…and one year ago today, I was working with the Carrybridge lifeboat volunteers in Northern Ireland:
It certainly feels strange to be at home now, creating an even stronger sense of reality biting since that day in March when my lifeboat stations visits were paused by the RNLI.
RETURN TO STIFFKEY
However, I’m very pleased to announce that I will in fact be able to hit the road again for a few days towards the end of the month.
Within just a few weeks of announcing My New Big Idea, I’m heading back to Stiffkey in North Norfolk to paste-up a giant poster of Lucy Lavers — the very first poster for my With Courage Exhibition.
As things stand, I’ll be working in Stiffkey on Saturday and Sunday 26/27th September.
To put you in the picture, here’s a wee film I made aboard Lucy Lavers in 2017 as part of a commission for the RNLI (a film which you can also find nestled on the Films page):
Lucy Lavers was built in 1939 and initially served as the Aldeburgh lifeboat. Her first call to service was in 1940 as one of the Dunkirk Little Ships.
She was restored and returned to Dunkirk for the 75th anniversary in 2015 by the Maritime Heritage charity Rescue Wooden Boats.
Our trip to sea was an amazing reward after making such a magical plate of her earlier that day:
Within the context of making a poster, the challenges with this inaugural paste-up are going to be significant for a newbie like me…but you know how I like a challenge!
For starters, the poster is going to cover the entire gable end of the single-storey Maritime Heritage Centre in Stiffkey, so it will be twice as wide as the 12×10 feet poster we made last month.
Nestled close to the stunning Norfolk coastline and sitting among the workshops where Lucy Lavers was restored, the building itself is functional and weather-worn:
As part of my planning and discussions with Wendy Pritchard — friend, patron and a founder trustee of Rescue Wooden Boats — we intend to temporarily board over the two windows.
This is how we’re hoping it will look:
In reality, I think the poster will look more fragmented when it takes on the texture and structure of the wall and windows. Just like the brickwork last month, I’m sure this will prove to be one of its charms.
Texture is an aspect that really comes across in the film Faces, Places. I love how it also conveys the power of giant posters to transform buildings and structures, simultaneously creating a strong emotional reaction from onlookers — the potential power that formed a huge part of my lightbulb moment at the end of July.
With my lifeboat station visits remaining paused by the RNLI, I’m really looking forward to travelling again and taking my first steps on this new dimension of The Lifeboat Station Project.
If you’re in the area on the weekend of 26/27th September, do feel free to come and see what we’re up to (restrictions allowing, of course).
It’ll be great to see you — our only request is that you observe social distancing guidelines whilst doing so!
HELP TO MAKE IT HAPPEN
I’m extremely proud that so many people who enjoy my journey are helping to fund it — the project has only been able to continue through such difficult times because of the generosity of my online community.
As I wrote in my last blog post, funding the With Courage Exhibition with the help of my online community is a wonderfully simple and symbiotic notion, avoiding the need for corporate involvement and logos plastered about the place.
After all, it’s an exhibition for the people, about the people in times when I believe courage, compassion and community spirit are key.
If you’d like to get behind The Lifeboat Station Project and the With Courage Exhibition, find out all the ways you can support my work here:
If you’d like to cut to the chase and unlock over 100 extra blog posts, films and podcasts, you can pledge whatever you’re comfortable with here from £1.20 per month:
…and if you can help me bring the With Courage Exhibition to your town, please drop me a line to get the ball rolling:
There’s one more simple way to support The Lifeboat Station Project — by purchasing the With Courage Keyring.
This classic item is clipped to hundreds of lifeboat volunteers’ emergency pagers and it can become a piece of daily inspiration for you too:
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
In the mood for learning more? I answer some frequently asked questions about my project here:
Huge thanks to Wendy Pritchard for the photograph of Jack and Reuben wading through the mud to photograph Lucy Lavers