Intangible and mysterious, familiar yet obscure, the shipping forecast is broadcast four times daily on BBC Radio 4. For those at, or about to be put to sea, the forecast may mean the difference between life and death. But for millions of landlubbing radio listeners it is more than this; the enigmatic language of the shipping forecast has entered the public consciousness, creating a landscape of the imagination and confirming romantic notions of Britain's island status.
In "The Shipping Forecast", Mark Power documents the 31 sea areas covered by the forecast, which include, among others, Finisterre off the north Portuguese/western Spanish coast, Biscay off the north Spanish/western French coast, the Irish Sea, and southeast Iceland. One of Britain's leading photographers, Power's images have an almost mythical resonance. Here, in picture after picture, life itself appears to have lost its co-ordinates, movements are disjointed and frenetic, people wander aimlessly or gather in trance-like formations, lonely gazes stare out towards blank horizons. Yet despite this, the shipping forecast is a steadfast national narrative and symbol; for over seventy years it has given reports on an unstable, volatile 'exterior' against which the ideas of 'home' and 'nation' as places of safety, order, and even divine protection are reinforced.
Size: 11 x 9 1/2"
Publisher: Zelda Cheatle Press in association with Network Photographers (London, 1996)