Calm Before the Storm exhibition

The Beken family have been photographing maritime life in Cowes for generations, creating a stunning visual record of Isle of Wight industry and RNLI lifeboats.
A glass plate photograph of an RNLI lifeboat in Cowes

Photo: RNLI

The launch Yarmouth’s lifeboat, S.G.E, on 13 April 1938

We’re excited to present a remarkable collection of images from the archives.

Calm Before the Storm: The Art of Photographing Lifeboats celebrates the digitisation of over 800 Beken plate negatives. It celebrates significant moments in the life of individual lifeboats and their volunteer crews, from launching down the slipway to saving lives at sea. 


The Shipwreck Centre
Arreton Barns Craft Village, Arreton, Isle of Wight
28 July–7 October 2018

Poole Museum
4 High Street, Poole
26 January–22 April 2019

Poole Museum will also be displaying photographs from Jack Lowe’s The Lifeboat Station Project, his ambitious challenge to photograph all 238 RNLI stations in the UK and Ireland. Jack uses a Victorian process to produce his images on glass, which complements the historical Beken collection. 

Heritage Lottery Fund logo

Supported by: 

Christopher Andreae and The Scorpion Trust 
Heritage Lottery Fund