Mandy Barker is an international award-winning photographer whose work involving
marine plastic debris has received global recognition. Working with scientists she aims
to raise awareness about plastic pollution in the world's oceans whilst highlighting
the harmful affect on marine life and ultimately ourselves.
Barker's work has been published in over 40 countries including; TIME Magazine,
National Geographic, The Guardian, The Financial Times, Smithsonian, The New Scientist,
El Pais, De Standaard, D-La Republicca, Greenpeace, Wired, Wallpaper* The Explorer's
Journal, The UNESCO Courier and photography publications including, The British
Journal of Photography, FOAM Magazine, GUP, The RPS Journal, Fotografi Magazine,
LensCulture, Fotoii, Fotographia, and Monthly Photography South Korea. She has
exhibited globally including at the United Nations Headquarters, Aperture Foundation
New York, the Victoria & Albert Museum and Photographers' Gallery London, and
also at the Science and Technology Park Hong Kong.
Barker was shortlisted for the Prix Pictet Award SPACE 2017, the world's leading award
for photography and sustainability, and also nominated for the Deutsche Borse Foundation
Photography Prize 2018 and the Magnum Foundation Fund. She is a recipient of the
2018 National Geographic Society Grant for Research and Exploration. Her book
'Beyond Drifting: Imperfectly Known Animals' was selected as one of the Ten Best
Photography Books of 2017, selected by Smithsonian.
In 2012 she was awarded The Royal Photographic Society's Environmental Bursary
enabling her to join scientists in a research expedition which sailed from Japan to
Hawaii to examine the accumulation of marine plastic debris in the tsunami debris
field in the Pacific Ocean. In June 2017 she was invited by Greenpeace to join the
Beluga II Expedition which sailed around the remote and unique island locations of
the Inner Hebrides in Scotland to recover marine plastic debris in a commission for
Barker speaks internationally about her work to engage people with the issue, having
been invited as a guest speaker to the National Geographic Photography Seminar 2018
Washington DC, Stanford University California, the Science and Technology Park in
Hong Kong, and as part of the Marfa Dialogues discussions at The Museum of Fine Arts,
Houston. In July she was invited to speak on behalf of the British Embassy and the
British Council at the political festival Almedalen, on the island of Gotland, Sweden.
She has contributed to many book publications and articles including for CNN
International concerning arts relationship with the environment. Engaging students
through workshops, this year she was part of a youth mentoring programme with
First Exposures, an organisation that empowers youth through photography in
San Francisco. She has been interviewed by the BBC for UK Hull City of Culture 2017,
by ITV for World Ocean's Day 2018, and for the film 'Circularity' by VICE produced in
June 2018. She was also interviewed live on CNN News US 'Connect the World', for
her series PENALTY during the time of the FIFA World Cup 2014.
"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. The impact of oceanic waste is an area I have documented for more
than 8 years and am committed to pursuing through visual interpretation. In collaboration
with science I am hoping it will ultimately lead to positive action in tackling this increasing
environmental problem which of current global concern".
The world map below shows the locations of where marine plastic debris has been
recovered from and used in my work. The dots not only pin point a single location
but also represent wider areas of collection.