Behind the scenes with Mandy Barker

Mandy Barker works closely with scientists to raise awareness about plastic pollution in the world’s oceans.

Her passion for highlighting the harmful affect of plastic pollution on marine life takes her on voyages all over the world.

In 2012, Barker joined a research expedition which sailed from Japan to Hawaii to examine the accumulation of marine plastic debris in the tsumani debris field in the Pacific Ocean.

In June 2017 she was invited to join Greenpeace on the Beluga II Expedition which sailed around the remote and unique island locations of the Inner Hebrides, Scotland, to recover plastic debris.

Barker’s most recent voyage led her to one of the most remote parts of the world, Henderson Island, which sits 5000km from the nearest landmass. In June 2019, she visited the island with scientists, filmmakers, a clean up crew, journalists and divers. Despite being so far away from human contact, one of the island’s beach was found by scientists to be the most densely plastic polluted beaches on the planet.

Barker’s projects are then developed through collating ideas and concepts in sketchbooks. The sketchbooks give an insight into the creative process Barker undertakes to produce her work.

The World from the series Penalty

This photograph shows 769 marine plastic debris footballs (and pieces of) collected from 41 countries and islands around the world, from 144 different beaches and by 89 members of the public in just 4 months.

Barker aims to create awareness about the issue of marine pollution by focusing attention on the football as a single plastic object and global symbol that could reach an international audience.

769 marine plastic debris footballs (and pieces of) collected from 41 countries and islands around the world, from 144 different beaches and by 89 members of the public in just 4 months.



The most significant and alarming offender to impact on marine life.

When released into the environment it will never decompose or biodegrade
to a non-recognisable form.


Monofilament and macrofilament fishing line

Fishing line affects the mobility of aquatic animals, once entangled they struggle to eat, breathe and swim, all of which have fatal results.

Discarded fishing nets cut loose by fishermen continue ‘ghost fishing’, indiscriminately sweeping up fish, seals, turtles andwhales in their foul web.


Plastic Bottle

90% of marine rubbish found on coastlines worldwide is related to single-use plastics; bottles, tops, straws, food packaging and general packaging.

111 different species of seabirds are known to ingest plastics, many of which are bottles.


Plastics – Mixed

Plastic never biodegrades, it merely breaks down into smaller fragments.

These microplastic particles and fibres are found in filter-feeding
barnacles, lugworms and amphipods which are in turn eaten by larger sea
creatures including fish, and ultimately eaten by ourselves.



Corals are destroyed when discarded fishing equipment, such as overalls, gloves, damaged lobster pots and nets drag along the ocean floor.

Coral reefs provide home for lots of species, most of which are also affected.


Plastic Bag Seams

Almost half of all marine mammal species including seals, whales and porpoises have been found dead from suffocation and starvation after having ingested plastic bags.

Between 290 to 300 plastic bags are used per person per year in the UK.


Clothing and material

Swallowing marine litter mistaken for food can damage the digestive tract of marine animals and also result in the absorption of toxic pollutants.

These toxins are then passed up the food chain to the fish that we