Our plastic ocean at the Inverness fair

Reclaimed toys, action heroes and transformers reflect the under-disposal of children’s toys – the message is to CHANGE the habits and behavior of Hong Kong’s younger generation.

An inspiring, thought-provoking and topical exhibition by an internationally award-winning photographer is currently on display in Inverness.

Entitled Our Plastic Ocean, the exhibition features work by Mandy Barker and addresses the current global plastic ocean pollution crisis, showcasing the photographer’s powerful and compelling images of trash she has collected from coastlines around the world.

Cathy Shankland, Visual Art Curator at High Life Highland, said: “The exhibition, which premiered at Bradford’s Impressions Gallery, is the first major touring retrospective of Mandy Barker’s work.

“At first glance, her images are reminiscent of sea creatures and coral floating in a dark void beneath the sea, but a closer look reveals a more disturbing reality.

“By collecting and repurposing everything from soccer balls to fishing nets, cotton swabs to coffee cup lids, Barker highlights the incongruous plastic objects that are ubiquitous in our seas today.”

She continued, “Currently, eight million tons of plastic end up in the world’s oceans every year, and if we extrapolate this travesty to 2050, that means our oceans could contain more plastic than fish.”

From accompanying scientists on an expedition from Hawaii to Japan in search of the debris of the 2011 tsunami, to a voyage aboard Greenpeace’s Beluga II to the Inner Hebrides, Mandy Barker is on a trail of plastic pollution followed all over the world.

The resulting images from these expeditions have become some of the best-known visual commentaries on plastic marine pollution.

As the photographer herself said: “For the past decade I have researched and documented the impact of marine litter, using art and science to combine to raise awareness.

“I hope to inspire positive action to address this growing environmental challenge that is of global concern.”

The touring exhibition was curated by Angela Sheard, who stated: “We are proud to launch the UK’s first major touring retrospective of Mandy Barker’s work.

“Barker’s images are both rich in detail and punchy on subject.

“As a charity that helps people make sense of the world through photography, it’s important to us to share this compelling work that examines an urgent and timely issue.”

Mandy Barker’s work has been published in over 40 countries and in publications such as National Geographic, TIME Magazine, The Guardian and The Financial Times.

Our Plastic Ocean spans a decade of Barker’s work, including the Soup series, meticulously detailed composite images of discarded plastic objects; Albatross reveals 276 pieces of plastic found in stomach of 90-day-old albatross chick; and Beyond Drifting, in which Barker follows in the footsteps of 19th-century botanist John Vaughan Thompson, who collected samples of plankton, the ocean’s most basic life form.

The exhibit also features a crate of microplastics recovered from a Hawaiian beach and an installation of suspended soccer balls brought together from around the world for their World Cup 2014 project, Penalty.

The exhibition runs until October 15th at the Inverness Museum and Gallery before moving on to Caithness where it is on view from October 22nd to December 3rd.

n Details of all current exhibitions at Inverness Gallery can be found at https://www.highlifehighland.com/inverness-museum-and-art-gallery/

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