Photographer Mandy Barker has spent more than 10 years creating images of marine debris to raise awareness about plastic pollution in the world’s oceans.
“I was first inspired to begin photographing plastic debris back in 2009, when I noticed my local beach was looking more like a rubbish tip than a nature reserve,” she says.
It is estimated that more than eight million tonnes of plastic enter the world’s oceans each year.
The debris poses a number of dangers to marine ecosystems – such as entangling or being ingested by sea creatures.
Barker photographs the salvaged objects against a dark background, which she takes on trips to the shore, with additional photography taking place in her studio.
“I shoot the smaller items first, which I throw randomly on to the background, followed by medium and larger-sized pieces.
“These layers are then sandwiched together, creating the illusion of the objects being suspended.”
Barker’s work has been exhibited around the world, and used to illustrate academic and scientific research papers on plastic research.
She was recently invited to speak on the subject at the opening session of EU Greenweek 2021.
“By working with scientists, I can represent their research through art – almost giving science a ‘visual voice’ – to attract people to read about the issue, when perhaps they would not normally have been drawn to it,” she says.
“Raising awareness about marine plastic pollution is something I have now dedicated my life to representing.
“I aim to highlight the harmful effect on marine life and ourselves, ultimately leading the viewer to take action.”