An Ocean of Pollution - Mandy Barker

Updated: Aug 8, 2019

Artist Profile:

  • Mandy Barker is a British photographer, who uses her work as a medium to advocate the issue of plastic pollution. She is an international award winning photographer, and her photographs have been exhibited in over 40 different countries.

  • We have all seen the photographs of the ridiculous amounts of litter that roam the earth; however, the way Barker lures in viewers is through the aesthetic and layout of the images.

  • Her works inform, advocate, educate, and make her viewers think twice about their own actions. Barker’s works aim to change the developing human nature of littering. Her works also involve photographing plastic that she, herself, has collected with a team of people. It is then photographed and placed and edited into precise positions in order to grab the viewers' attention.

She has various series that aim to recognize these different types of plastic pollution, including "Penalty" and "Soup.


"Penalty" is a series that showcases footballs that have been collected from the ocean or the shore. The series was named "Penalty" because of the definition the word has in sports. By naming this project "Penalty", Barker wanted to show that pollution is our penalty, criticizing the lack of appreciation we have for the environment. This collaborative project managed to gather hundreds of footballs by reaching out to volunteers through social media platforms.

992 balls were collected from 41 countries in just 4 months. The series includes contrasting ways of shooting the footballs. The photographs depict various soccer balls in a way that looks like a swarm of bees, or objects floating in space. Either way, pollution is unavoidable and the penalty is still not over.


Another interesting series that Mandy Barker has produced is titled "Soup". "Soup" simply displays and educates about large amounts of plastic pollution in our oceans. For instance, the Garbage Patch. The Garbage Patch is an area in the North Pacific Ocean which is constantly growing in the amounts of plastic. Some of these photographs include plastic from the actual Garbage Patch.

The series does not specify on one particular object, like "Penalty". Instead, it is a collection of several types of plastic that have been retrieved from all over the world. All of the images have a caption which includes the ‘ingredients’ that are spread out in the photograph, just like soup.

What is Left Behind:

Mandy Barker continues to create works that aim to trigger an emotional response from her viewers, so that they will be increasingly attached and invested in the environment. The condition of our environment is a pressing concern for every single person living on this planet. If these environmental problems are not resolved, our well being will be in critical danger, very soon. It is up to us, the current generation, to push for change, so the next generation will have a life to live and a planet to love. Barker is one artist that creates unique visual portrayals to help advocate and tackle the issues of littering and pollution; one photograph at a time.

25 views0 comments