The Art And The Action of NO PLASTICS!

It’s Plastics Free July , a theme being honoured in Fremantle and around our planet right now.

Regardless of how many times one says, ‘No Plastics, No Plastics, No Plastics’, or how regularly we focus on the Pastics Free theme, or how often we devote an entire month of our year to raising our collective consciousness about the evils of plastics, the challenge of stopping plastics fouling our lands and seas and waterways seems to just grow and grow.

It’s not just a local challenge but a global one.

The entire planet is suffering. In this article though, we take a moment to focus on our oceans and waterways. It’s sometimes hard to fathom, if you’ll excuse the pun, how awash with plastic debris they are. Fish and marine life are being strangled by it. We are making a mess of things.

Jon Sanders, our Freo-based solo-circumnavigator of our planet’s seas, sailed home recently loudly proclaiming, on the side of his yacht, the No Plastics message. Jon has seen the plastic wasteland at sea first-hand. And it’s not pretty.

Here’s Jon coming alongside at Fremantle Sailing Club in Perie Banou II after concluding his 11th solo circuit of our planet by sea. Amazing feats! And you can’t miss his No Plastics message.

(In case you missed it, here’s our story on his return.)

As to Jon’s No Plastics message, it’s not just about people tossing things overboard when at sea, it’s also very much about the fact we have so many plastic products, single use and otherwise, that have short lives and are so readily and easily discarded without regard to the health of the planet, and our own health, and somehow find there way to water.

Minderoo Foundation, the philanthropic brainchild of local Perth people Andrew and Nicola Forrest, supported Jon Sander’s No Plastics message. Mindaroo is working hard to tackle the problem head on. Here’s the Minderoo website which outlines the issue and some of the solutions to it. This summary is instructive-

As we say,the challenge is both local and global. There are various ways to highlight it but inspiring ART is a superb way to arrest public attention.

Have a look at these fantastic, striking, beautiful images and tell us what form of art they are, and what their subject matter is. (Yes, your hunches are right, we’re sure, but we’ll keep you in a little suspense while you keep studying them!)

Shelf Life. © Mandy Barker. Marine palstic debris recovered from Henderson Island

And this one –

SOUP: Birds Nest. © Mandy Barker

Yes, they are photographs; and yes, they are photograph of marine plastic debris. Your hunches were right! You sort of feel bad admiring the beauty of such great art, don’t you, when you realise what you’re looking at? But that’s the power of great art for you. Getting your attention. Telling some truths.

They are photographs taken by Mandy Barker, an international award-winning photographer whose work involving marine plastic debris for more than 10 years has received global recognition. Working with scientists she aims to raise awareness about plastic pollution in the world’s oceans, highlighting the harmful affect on marine life and ourselves – ultimately leading we, the viewers to take action.

(For the photographic fiends amongst you, Mandy has explained that she photographs the salvaged objects against a dark background, while on trips to the shore, with additional photography taking place later in her studio.)

You won’t be surprised to learn that Mandy’s work is exhibited and held internationally, including at such places as MOMA, the fabulous Museum of Modern Art, in New York.

Here’s Mandy’s website. You must explore it to learn more about her and her work and her commitment to No Plastics.

When we, quite coincidentally, recently came across Mandy’s marine plastics images in a BBC feature, we contacted Mandy to asked if we could show some of them to publicise this Plastics Free July story here on the Shipping News. Mandy readily and kindly agreed. We are indebted to her.

Just to make the point that Mandy’s images are the final product of an artistic process that involves the artist researching and collecting marine plastic debris, here’s a great shot of Mandy at work by the seaside on the West Coast of Scotland.

Portrait of Mandy Barker, West Coast of Scotland. © Mandy Barker

The photograph also reminds you just how much of a challenge marine plastics debris is everywhere. Even in pristine Scotland.

So, there you have it. Time for action! NO PLASTICS.

Fortunately things are beginning to happen in Western Australia, following Fremantle’s lead a couple years back. The State Government has a plan. By the end of 2022 single use plastics will be phased out.

But plainly more is required to deal with the wider plastics challenge. Recycling is plainly part of the answer. Freeing ourselves of plastics is another part.

July is a good month to start freeing ourselves of plastics — but let’s aim to make our commitment to eliminating or reducing our reliance on plastics permanent.

* This article was written by Michael Barker, Editor, Fremantle Shipping News.

** The photographs in this article credited to Mandy Barker are the Copyright of Mandy Barker and cannot be republished or used without her permission.