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05 April, 2019

Covered: Lifeboat Station Project

From an early age, Jack Lowe had an interest in photography. He was given a Kodak Instamatic camera at the age of 8 by his grandmother, which developed his passion into a career in photography. Jack's other passions are lifeboats and the sea, but how to combine all three? This is how the Lifeboat Station Project was born.
Working from a decommissioned ambulance, recommissioned as a mobile darkroom, Jack set out to photograph all 238 RNLI lifeboat stations and the volunteers, using Victorian glass plate equipment. He is currently just over half way through the project.
But how did Jack come to wear a Labour and Wait bib apron?

"I first became aware of the Labour and Wait bib apron back in 2014. I popped in to visit a friend who runs an independent coffee company.

He stopped work for a moment to say hello. While we chatted, I realised he was wearing a splendid looking apron. It looked perfect for my needs, just the thing I’d been looking for to protect me from the rigours of working with such an old photographic process as wet plate collodion. It had a lovely traditional feel too, that would suit my work down to the ground.

I asked him about it.

“You haven’t heard of Labour and Wait?” he said.

It was true, I hadn’t, but I got onto the website and ordered one straight away. A few years down the line, who’d have thought that it would become such a ‘famous’ item in its own right, even ending up as a museum exhibit!
 
I’m wearing the apron in just about every photograph of me working on the The Lifeboat Station Project. My followers love the #LSPthrowdown hashtag on Instagram, which I use at the end of my photographic missions.

I find a good spot to lay the apron down for a photograph, perhaps on a lifeboat deck or slipway to signify the end of another great few weeks on the coast.

Over time, it’s become really splashed and stained with silver nitrate, culminating in this final ’throwdown’ at the halfway point in Dover after four years’ work (above).

Now Labour and Wait have kindly donated a new apron to the project for the second half. I wonder which one will end up being the dirtier of the two…!"

Jack is currently exhibiting his work at Poole Museum until 22nd April, 2019, where you'll also find his original bib apron proudly displayed.

Follow Jack and the project on instagram: @lordlowe

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