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From driftwood into art

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Jurien Bay artist Mandy Collinson (aka The Fishermans Daughter) was in Geraldton this month contributing five beautiful works to this year’s Flotsam and Jetsam competition held by Latitude Gallery. She was thrilled to be awarded Gallery Choice Award at the opening night, 13 April, for her stunning piece Driftwood Batavia.

The annual competition – which invites artists to transform washed up waste gathered from the Abrolos Islands into artworks – is in it’s eighth year.

Plastics, ropes, old broken pots, pot floats, wood, glass and plastic bottles are collected by volunteers as part of the annual Clean up Australia Day over the March long weekend – and instead of being tossed into landfill, the ocean junk is given a new life.
This year over 3 tonne of rubbish picked over 3 days by 17 volunteers was bought back, and then collected from the wharf by local artists and combined to make 124 pieces of work by 93 artists.

To coincide with the Balayi – Open Your Eyes: Houtman 400 Commemoration 2019 festival which celebrates the 400 year anniversary of explorer Frederick De Houtman’s first recording the existence of the Abrolhos Islands, the gallery added an extra category for 2019.
The brief encouraged artists to explore the themes of old sea charts, dutch ships, spice routes, the southern cross (Houtman was the first to accurately plot the position of the stars in the southern hemisphere skies – including the Southern Cross) or Houtman himself.

Mandy Collinson, who readers may recognise from our December cover story, is practised in marine upcycling and creates beautiful woven baskets from used fishing ropes under her brand The Fishermans Daughter. She jumped at the chance to enter the competition, and spent weeks hand drawing an original old-style sea chart, fashioning a lamp and coffee table out of nautical ropes and driftwood and generally immersing herself in the discovery theme.

“As soon as I heard about the competition and the rubbish being bought back from the Hotmas Abrolhos Islands I dreamt about all the drift wood in the ocean from from ship wrecks past,” she said.

It was her replica ship Driftwood Batavia that shone above the rest for the judges, winning her a $400 voucher to be spent at Lattitude Gallery Jewellers.
“After being awarded the Gallery Choice Award I was approached by a local historian who said there’s a very real possibility that wood from the ‘Batavia’ could be drifting around. We inspected the model closely and identified that the wood was not the type usual to our local Australian shipwrights,” she said. Who knows what possibilities the seas has washed up?

All Entries are on display at Latitude Gallery, 169 Marine Terrace, Geraldton until 11th May 2019.

To follow Mandy’s work like her Facebook page The Fisherman’s Daughter.