Our Plastic Ocean opens at Impressions Gallery 28 June 2019

  • © Mandy Barker | Our Plastic Ocean opening at Impressions Gallery, Bradford, UK
    © Mandy Barker | Our Plastic Ocean opening at Impressions Gallery, Bradford, UK
  • © Mandy Barker from the series Shoal
    © Mandy Barker from the series Shoal
    29.24N, 172.05E (Included with trawl: painted board fragments left by the tsunami outside Mrs Kazuko's house, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan).
  • © Mandy Barker Transform, from her series, 1824: Hong Kong Soup
    © Mandy Barker Transform, from her series, 1824: Hong Kong Soup
    Recovered toys, action heroes and transformers reflect inadequate disposal of children's toys - the message to TRANSFORM the habits and behaviour of the younger generation in Hong Kong, with the emphasis being to take action (Includes ACTION figures and transformers recovered from various beaches over the past three years).
  • © Mandy Barker Penalty - Europe
    © Mandy Barker 'Penalty - Europe'
    633 marine debris footballs (and pieces of) collected from 23 countries & islands within Europe, from 104 different beaches and by 62 members of the public in just 4 months.
  • © Mandy Barker, Burnt from her series Soup
    © Mandy Barker, Burnt from her series Soup
    Ingredients; all plastics partially burnt.
Opening 28 June and running until 21 September

At first glance, Mandy Barker's images are reminiscent of sea creatures and corals suspended in a dark void beneath the sea, but closer inspection reveals a more disturbing reality. From footballs to fishing nets, cotton-buds to coffee-cup lids, Barker highlights the incongruous plastic items now ubiquitous in our seas. Currently, 8 million tonnes of plastic end up in the world’s oceans every year and if these trends continue, our oceans could contain more plastic than fish by 2050.

From accompanying scientists on an expedition from Hawaii to Japan, tracing the debris of the 2011 Tsunami, to a voyage on board Greenpeace's Beluga II to the Inner Hebrides, Mandy Barker has followed a trail of plastic pollution across the globe. The images resulting from these expeditions have become some of the most recognisable visual commentary on marine plastic pollution.

Our Plastic Ocean at Impressions Gallery in Bradford spans a decade of Barker’s work including the series Soup, meticulously detailed composite images of discarded plastic objects; Albatross revealing 276 pieces of plastic found inside the stomach of a 90 day old albatross chick; and Beyond Drifting, which sees Barker trace the footsteps of nineteenth century botanist John Vaughan Thompson who collected plankton specimens, the ocean’s most basic life-form.

The exhibition also features notebooks and journals documenting Barker’s voyages and research; a case of sand permeated with microplastics recovered from a Hawaiian beach; and an installation of suspended footballs, crowdsourced from around the world for her 2014 World Cup project Penalty.

Barker says, “For the past decade, I have researched and documented the impact of oceanic waste, combining art and science to raise awareness. I hope to inspire positive action in tackling this increasing environmental challenge which is of global concern”.

An Impressions Gallery Touring Exhibition curated by Angela Sheard.
Mandy is represented by East Wing | Doha

Mandy Barker (Hull, UK, 1964) is an international award-winning photographer whose work involving marine plastic debris has received global recognition. Barker's work has been published in over 40 countries including; National Geographic, TIME Magazine, The Guardian, The Financial Times, Smithsonian, The New Scientist, The Explorer's Journal, UNESCO, The British Journal of Photography, FOAM Magazine, GUP, and The RPS Journal. She has exhibited internationally from Inner Mongolia, China, to the United Nations Headquarters, including the Aperture Foundation in New York, the Victoria & Albert Museum and Photographers' Gallery in London, and the Science & Technology Park in Hong Kong.

Barker was shortlisted for the Prix Pictet Award SPACE 2017, the world's leading photography award for sustainability and is a recipient of the 2018 National Geographic Society Grant for Research and Exploration. She has spoken internationally about her work at Stanford University, California; the Science and Technology Park in Hong Kong; and was the opening keynote speaker for the EuroConference GlobalCapital Sustainable & Responsible Capital Markets Forum in Amsterdam in 2018. In May 2019 she will travel with a team of scientists to Henderson Island, a remote, uninhabited Pacific island which has the highest density of plastic waste anywhere in the world.
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