Ironically beautiful photographs capture rubbish from the ocean
Photographer Mandy Barker collects plastic ocean debris to create striking bodies of work that confront our global inaction toward pollution
As someone who has spent a lot of time on the beach growing up, Mandy Barker went from collecting shells to collecting washed up plastic rubbish on her childhood coastline. Witnessing this change in landscape emotionally fuelled the England-based photographer to start documenting what she saw—and not just in her homeland, but across continents worldwide. This plastic problem is an undeniably huge global issue and it is through photography that Barker hopes to show you what you’ve contributed.
Research is a really important part of Barker’s process, ensuring her work is based on true facts and underpinned by scientific research in collaboration with scientists and oceanographers. “All the plastics photographed have been salvaged from beaches around the world and represent a global collection of debris that has existed for varying amounts of time in the world’s oceans,” explains Barker of her SOUP project.
Photography has the visual power to inspire, communicate, and educate all at the same time. The beautiful formations are purposefully attractive to gain your attention—you can’t help but be drawn in by the arrangements, the colours, the clever balance and strange beauty portrayed in each image. It’s at closer inspection and with captions like ‘Ingredients; marine plastic debris affected by the chewing & attempted ingestion by animals’ that instantly challenge your admiration for the work. This is exactly what Barker wants to happen.
“I want people to be concerned about the damage that plastic does to the oceans and to the environments and the ecosystems. My sole aim is to form some sort of connection with the public through my work. To represent scientific research and in a way give science a voice to perhaps people who couldn’t readily read about what’s happening.” (UNESCO Biosphere Talk Lanzarote Spain 18 October 2016 Interview)
Mandy Barker speaks internationally about her award-winning work, which has been exhibited and published globally. You can find out more information and view more of these incredibly powerful works at mandy-baker.com