In a series both beautiful and terrifying, Mandy Barker shows us the scale, scope, and absurdity of our obsession with plastic, and the way it’s utterly overwhelmed and polluted our oceans. On this Earth Day, it’s both painful but necessary to take stock on how we’re treating the planet, our only home, and ways in which we need to change direction.
Her work is beautiful in composition, found trash items manipulated in Photoshop to appear as they might underwater, swirling and grouping like a plastic school of fish. It’s devastating to think that our once pristine seas and beaches have been infiltrated by massive amounts of plastic waste, polluting our world on a global scale. Aside from sullying views and beaches, the plastic particles ensnare and are eaten by wildlife, causing massive die-offs. Barker showcases some of these scenarios with equal parts documentary eye and ironically named art pieces. Her work is on display at a number of galleries and museums around the world, hopefully opening the eyes and brains of viewers to this monumental problem. Via Colossal:
Earth Day 2018 Note:
Plastic, and plastic waste is a major scourge, and while you might not think individual actions make much difference, collectively they do. So next time you’re out, skip the straws in your drinks. Bring a reusable container. Don’t let grocery stores use plastic bags for your few items. Not only recycle your plastics, but try to use less of them in the first place. Voting with your wallet is a powerful way to influence change.
Hong Kong Soup:1826 – Lighter © Mandy Barker. Discarded cigarette lighters make reference to our single-use throw away society. The panda, a national emblem of China represents endangered species and faces away from the group symbolizing mother nature turning its back on man’s inability to take ownership of its waste.
EVERY… snowflake is different © Mandy Barker. Ingredients: white marine plastic debris objects collected in two single visits to a nature reserve on the East Coast of England.
Hong Kong Soup:1826 – Spilt © Mandy Barker. 150 tonnes of pre-production plastic pellets (nurdles) spilt from a cargo container during Typhoon Vincente on 23rd July 2012 adds to Hong Kong’s waste issues in its seas and on its beaches.
The aim of my work is to engage with and stimulate an emotional response in the viewer by combining a contradiction between initial aesthetic attraction along with the subsequent message of awareness. The research process is a vital part of my development as the images I make are based on scientific fact which is essential to the integrity of my work.
PENALTY – Europe © Mandy Barker. 633 marine plastic debris footballs (and pieces of) recovered from 23 countries and islands within Europe, from 104 different beaches, and by 62 members of the public, in just 4 months.
PENALTY – The World © Mandy Barker. 769 marine plastic debris footballs (and pieces of) collected from 41 countries and islands around the world, from 144 different beaches and by 89 members of the public in just 4 months.
SHOAL – 30.41N, 157.51E © Mandy Barker.Included in trawl: child’s ball and Japanese character – fridge magnet found on the tsunami shoreline. Fishing buoy found in trawl sample, North pacific Ocean
HOAL 33.15N, 151.15E © Mandy Barker. Included in trawl: tatami mat from the floor of a Japanese home, fishing related plastics, buoys, nylon rope, buckets, fish trays, polystyrene floats, shampoo bottle, caps, balloon & holder, petrol container.
SOUP – Alphabet © Mandy Barker. Ingredients; plastic debris that includes surface text. Ironic random arrangement of 4 pieces of plastic that suggest a warning; ‘Sea’ ‘AND’ ‘HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCES’ ‘FOUL’
SOUP: Bird’s Nest © Mandy Barker. Ingredients; discarded fishing line that has formed nest-like balls due to tidal and oceanic movement. Additives; other debris collected in its path.
SOUP – Refused © Mandy Barker. Ingredients; plastic oceanic debris affected by chewing and attempted ingestion by animals. Includes a toothpaste tube. Additives; teeth from goats.
SOUP – Ruinous Remembrance © Mandy Barker. Ingredients; plastic flowers, leaves, stems, and fishing line. Additives; bones, skulls, feathers, and fish.
SOUP: Turtle © Mandy Barker.
WHERE © Mandy Barker. Ingredients; marine debris balloons collected from around the world.
PENALTY – 24 Footballs © Mandy Barker.