The Shipping Forecast
- 240 pages
- 163 duotone images
- 257 × 318 × 31 mm
- ISBN 9781910401774
- Jan 2023
Thirty years ago, Mark Power embarked on a journey to photograph the thirty-one sea areas around the coasts of the British Isles to create a visual representation of the shipping forecast. For nearly 100 years, the forecast has been broadcast four times a day by BBC radio and has seeped into the British public consciousness—it is a constant in an ever-changing world. Power’s book, The Shipping Forecast was originally published in 1996 and this newly edited, revised and much-expanded edition includes over 100 previously unpublished photographs.
‘The shipping forecast, of course, exists to save lives. It warns those at sea, or about to put to sea, of approaching storms. But for the majority of us, in Britain at least, its’ strange, rhythmic language is unashamedly romantic and oddly reassuring, despite forming an image of an island nation perpetually buffeted by wind and waves.’ – Mark Power
The shipping forecast covers the waters of Western Europe and separates them into thirty-one sea areas from Trafalgar to Southeast Iceland, and from Sole to German Bight. Over a period of four years Power photographed all of them, searching for visual metaphors of the esoteric language of the forecast’s spoken words and its poetic and mantra-like delivery. Each black and white photograph is captioned with the 0600hr forecast on the day they were taken, creating a corelation between image and text. Never intended as a document, the photographs represent a lyrical impression of each place Power encountered.
‘The sea and sky alone are brooding presences in Power’s work. Spare landless images from the pelagic areas open and close the sequence in this book where sea and sky come together in a dense and overbearing exchange. The sea and sky are the shipping forecast’s essential elements and in Power’s pictures they seem to cast a spell over what takes place ashore. For here, on the land, in picture after picture, life itself appears to have lost its coordinates, movements are disjointed and frenetic, people wander aimlessly or gather in trancelike formation, lonely gazes stare out towards blank horizons.’ – David Chandler
The shipping forecast had been part of Power’s childhood, broadcast from a mahogany gramophone in the living room. However, the project was originally inspired by a tea towel map of the shipping forecast sea areas purchased in Great Yarmouth in 1990—the first time he had seen the actual locations of the mythical Dogger, Fisher, German Bight and the rest. When he began the project, finances were tight and the prospect of ever finishing appeared unlikely. However, three years into the project he won the Mosaique Prize for European photography which allowed him to complete his journey, produce an exhibition and help to fund his first book. He began to revisit the project during lockdown in 2020, rediscovering photographs which, in retrospect, he believed had merit. Power began the task of scanning over 500 negatives to begin the process of re-editing and re-sequencing the journey he made thirty years previous into this new and expanded edition of The Shipping Forecast.
Mark Power (B.1959) studied painting at Brighton Polytechnic but turned to photography soon afterwards. His work has been seen in numerous galleries and museums across the world, and is held in several collections, including the Arts Council of England, the British Council, the Victoria and Albert Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Milwaukee Art Museum, and Marrakech Museum of Photography and Visual Art. Power joined Magnum Photos as a Nominee in 2002, and became a full Member in 2007. He lives in Brighton, on the south coast of England.