Photographer To Capture All NI Lifeboat Stations

An English photographer is headed to Northern Ireland this month as he continues his quest to visit and photograph all 283 stations in the RNLI network.

In a largely self-funded project, Jack Lowe has been travelling in his mobile dark room since January 2015, capturing the boats using Wet Plate Collodion, a Victorian process that creates stunning images on glass.

Beginning with Red Bay in County Antrim on Tuesday 03 September, Jack will also visit Portrush, Enniskillen, Carrybridge, Newcastle, Kilkeel, Portaferry, Donaghadee, Bangor and Larne. He also plans to visit Portpatrick and Stranraer in Scotland on his way home.

Jack, who lives in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, has loved the RNLI since he was a little boy. He became a member of Storm Force, the charity's club for children, aged 10 – a couple of years after he picked up his first camera.

In 2015, he began an epic odyssey to bring those two passions together: The Lifeboat Station Project, about the lifeboat volunteers, for the lifeboat volunteers.
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Once his trip to Northern Ireland is complete, the number of lifeboat stations he has yet to visit will be down to double figures for the first time! When finished, the project will be the very first time every station on the RNLI network been documented as one complete body of work. It is also one of the biggest photographic projects ever undertaken.

Speaking of his adventure, Jack said: "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.

"This journey is unprecedented in so many ways. The further I travel, the deeper the body of work becomes on just about every level and in ways that I could never have foreseen or imagined.

"When looking at a freshly-made crew portrait, a lifeboat volunteer once said to me, 'We look like those heroes of old'. I replied, 'That's because you are the same people.' The project closes the circle of photographic history and gives these unsung heroes a fresh spring in their step and a sense of renewed pride."

When Jack visits a lifeboat station, he makes the portraits using a camera made in 1905, and then develops the images in his mobile darkroom, which he refurbished from an unused ambulance. The lifeboat crews can step into the ambulance and watch as their portraits appear on the glass plates – an experience Jack says they find fascinating, and sometimes very moving.


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