3 Highland lifeboat crews to be added to iconic RNLI photographic archive

Lifeboats News Release

Volunteers from RNLI lifeboat stations at Kessock, Invergordon and Loch Ness will be added to The Lifeboat Station Project when photographer Jack Lowe comes to The Highlands early next month.

Photographer Jack Lowe stands in front of a lifeboat with his camera on his shoulder

Duncan Davis

Jack Lowe of The Lifeboat Station Project

The Lifeboat Station Project is an ambitious five-year odyssey and one of the biggest photographic projects ever undertaken. When finished, it will be the first complete photographic record of every single lifeboat station on the RNLI network.

Working using Wet Plate Collodion, a Victorian process that allows him to record stunning images on glass Jack develops his images at the lifeboat station with crews watching over his shoulder in his mobile darkroom, a decommissioned NHS ambulance, nicknamed Neena.

Throughout The Project, which began in January 2015, Jack will visit all 238 RNLI lifeboat stations in the UK and Republic of Ireland, photographing the view from each station along with the crew and Coxswain/Senior Helm.

He has already visited lifeboat stations at Thurso and Wick and now is turning his sights to the north east of Scotland. Starting in Kessock on the weekend of 2 and 3 June Jack will photograph the crew on the 25thanniversary of the station being opened by the RNLI in the Black Isle village. He’ll then visit Invergordon and Loch Ness before heading east towards Buckie lifeboat station. By the end of June he’ll have followed the coastline round to Broughty Ferry lifeboat station.

Jack, grandson of Dad’s Army actor Arthur Lowe, also an avid RNLI supporter, explains: “Some of my early childhood was spent in the Highlands. Based at Abriachan, I used to instruct Kayaking and hillwalking in the summer months as a teenager. My Dad, who is an experienced seafarer, kept his boat at Clachnaharry for a while. It was him who introduced me to the wonders of lifeboats – these incredible, powerful pieces of kit designed for heroic, lifesaving missions on stormy seas.

“From an early age, I knew that I wanted to be a photographer and lifeboat volunteer when I grew up. Now I’m following my heart and uniting the two dreams. I’m using a photographic technique developed in the 1850s, around the time that the RNLI was incorporated under Royal Charter. The photographs are made directly onto glass plates known as ‘Ambrotypes’.”

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. The volunteer lifeboat crew members are able to 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.

While Jack is in Inverness he is doing a public talk about The Lifeboat Station Project, his mission and how it has evolved to not just capture the picture of lifeboat the volunteers but also the sounds of the coastlines and stories of people he meets.

The talk is on Thursday 7 June at The Highland Council chamber and is supported by the Royal Scottish Geographical Society (RSGS). Doors 6.30pm. Tickets cost £10 and all money goes towards the RNLI at Kessock and supporting The Lifeboat Station Project.

Tickets are available here: The Lifeboat Station Project evening talk


Notes to Editors

Jack is available for interview about the project, his public talk and his links to the Highlands ahead of his visit. Contact Dan Holland.

A press release relating to the 25thanniversary of RNLI Kessock will be published ahead of the anniversary. Any initial media requests, please contact Dan Holland.

The Lifeboat Station Project webpage- https://lifeboatstationproject.com

An RNLI film about the project here: The Lifeboat Station Project Film

Media Contacts

Dan Holland, Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer, RNLI Kessock, 07900 567 496 dan_holland@rnli.org.uk

Henry Weaver, RNLI Regional Media Manager for Scotland, 01738 642946, 07771 943026, henry_weaver@rnli.org.uk

Gemma Mcdonald, RNLI Regional Media Officer for Scotland. 01738 642956, 07826 900639 Gemma_mcdonald@rnli.org.uk

RNLI 24 hour Press Office, 01202 336789

Jack Lowe

Neena, a decommissioned NHS ambulance. Now Jack's darkroom

Jack Lowe

Minehead Helms

Jack Lowe

New Quay lifeboat crew

Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

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For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.