Beken Lifeboat Photography exhibition

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The RNLI has acquired a fantastic collection of glass plate negatives of lifeboats, spanning much of the twentieth century. This collection formed part of the archive of the Beken family of Cowes. Digitisation of the glass plates by a team of volunteers is coming to an end, and research for exhibitions and dedicated website content is underway. So far, fifteen lifeboats that went to Dunkirk have been identified. The exceptions are Abdy Beauclerk, Guide of Dunkirk, Cyril and Lilian Bishop, Lord Southborough.

Exhibitions focusing on images drawn from across this collection will be staged at The Shipwreck Centre, Arreton, Isle of Wight this summer and at Poole Museum in early 2019. Further information below.

Should you have any questions about the project, or would like further information, please contact:

Many thanks,
Joe Williams
Project Officer - HLF Beken Project

'Calm before the Storm: The Art of Photographing Lifeboats '
This exhibition presents a remarkable collection of images from the archive of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI). For generations, the Beken family in Cowes has photographed maritime activity in the area, creating a significant visual record of Isle of Wight industry and RNLI lifeboats.
‘Calm before the Storm: The Art of Photographing Lifeboats’ celebrates the digitisation of over eight hundred Beken glass plate negatives. It explores the journeys made by individual lifeboats and their volunteer crews, from starting service 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

Also on display at Poole Museum will be photographs made by Jack Lowe as part of The Lifeboat Station Project, an ambitious journey to all 238 RNLI stations in the UK and Ireland photographing the lifeboat crews of today. Jack’s use of a Victorian process to produce images on glass complements the historical photographs of the Beken collection, prompting reflection on generations of lifesaving.

The project is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and a major RNLI donor