Plastic Smartie lids stopped being made over 14 years ago, when the packaging was replaced by a completely card version. However, the old plastic Smartie lids have continued to wash up on beaches around the UK and beyond.
The lids were originally embossed with a letter of the alphabet, and some featured faces, motifs, and limited edition colours for special events.
Barker says, ‘In one afternoon I collected almost the whole alphabet (except 5 letters) from Spurn Point, a nature reserve on the east coast of England. Some of the lids in the image are more than 40 years old.’
The artist arranged some of the lids to spell out the message ‘we must act now’, which became the title of the artwork.
Listen to Barker talk about this photograph here:
Image originally commissioned by WeTransfer as part of their WePresent series. Barker was selected to be part of WeTransfer’s Union of Concerned Photographers, an initiative which uses the power of photography to underline
the urgency of environmental concerns.