Coinciding with the preparations for the start of the America’s Cup, art and science come together in this exhibition to draw attention to one of the most serious global environmental problems: the pollution of the seas and oceans caused by plastic waste.

The starting point for reflection in this exhibition is Auguste Renoir’s oil painting, The Beach at Pornic (1892), in which the artist conveys an idyllic vision of the beaches, as yet unpolluted by plastic. Renoir’s arcadian gaze is shown alongside a selection of works from the late 19th and early 20th centuries by Santiago Rusiñol, Joaquín Torres García, Hermen Anglada Camarasa, Lluís Masriera, Alexandre de Cabanyes and Enrique Serra. These works offer a striking contrast with Mandy Barker’s photographs, in which the beauty of her creations alerts us to the major current problem of the pollution of the seas and oceans caused by plastic waste.

The beauty of the images created by the British photographer Mandy Barker on these environmental problems have led her to exhibit at the MoMA (2021), the United Nations headquarters in New York, the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, the Hong Kong Science and Technology Park, the Museum of Civilisations of Europe and the Mediterranean in Marseille (2021) and the Busan International Photography Festival (2020), among other places. She has received international awards for the results of her work, such as the International Understanding Through Photography Award 2023, awarded by The Photographic Society of America. Mandy Barker’s artistic ability to make an impact on the viewer is combined with the scientific rigour with which she undertakes each of the photographic creations she produces, sometimes after joining scientific expeditions to seas and oceans around the world. In 2012, following the Pacific Ocean tsunami, she joined a scientific research expedition from Japan to Hawaii to assess the accumulation of plastic debris. In 2017 Greenpeace invited her to join the ‘Beluga II’ Expedition to recover plastic waste from the remote Inner Hebrides Islands in Scotland, and in 2019 she took part in the ‘Henderson Island Plastic Pollution Expedition’. Her beautifully charged images bring new meaning to marine plastic waste with the aim of promoting profound change regarding the global plastic cycle, including its production, use and disposal, and to raise awareness of plastic pollution in the world’s seas and oceans, highlighting the serious impact on marine ecosystems and humans.

Mandy Barker’s artwork has been published in some of the most prestigious media in over 50 countries, including National Geographic, TIME, WWF World Wildlife Fund, The Financial Times, The Guardian, The Smithsonian, UNESCO, The British Journal of Photography, VOGUE, The New Scientist, and has illustrated relevant academic and scientific research articles on the impact of plastics on our seas.

This exhibition is part of the Cultural Regatta, the program of activities promoted by Barcelona City Council to accompany the celebration of the America’s Sailing Cup in Barcelona.