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Reinventing the ropes

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Mandy Collinson, The Fisherman's Daughter
Mandy Collinson, The Fisherman's Daughter

t’s almost impossible to walk past one of Mandy Collinson’s unique rope baskets without stopping for a closer look. Mandy, who hand weaves the baskets herself, says women are drawn in by an almost primal instinct. “There’s something about weaving that women respond to on a deeper level,” she says.

After all women have been weaving for millennia, traditionally passing the skills down through generations. Self-taught, Mandy pays tribute to the heritage of the craft, while adding her own element of style. Her baskets and mats are equally comfortable in the hippest homes and shops in Perth as they are on the back of a fishing trawler, or outside a coastal shack.

As the daughter of Jurien Bay cray-fisherman Merv Collinson, Mandy is ocean born and bred – the pristine islands and endless sandy beaches of Jurien her personal playground growing up. “I’ve always had to build pots with Dad and learnt early on how to work with ropes and know how to splice,” she says.

She has always made things from the flotsam and jetsam of the coast, but she has started her new venture, The Fisherman’s Daughter, with the dream of building a sustainable, ongoing business for herself and her four nearly-grown children.
“The hardest thing is actually sourcing the rope,” says Mandy, who spends a good part of her week driving up and down the coast collecting worn ropes direct from fishing boats. Commercial boats replace their lines approximately every two years, so there’s an ongoing source – most of which would have previously ended up in landfill.
The fishermen are usually happy to pass on the old ropes, “I always make them something special from their own ropes as a thank you,” says Mandy, “A basket for the boat or something for their wife.”

Repurposing ropes is, of course, something fisherman have always done, and Mandy has drawn inspiration from local weavers such as Alf Parker, whose square baskets and mats are now available through The Fisherman’s Daughter. Her ‘cray trax’, also pay tribute to local heritage. A must-have for anyone driving on sand dunes, the long narrow mats are great for getting un-bogged.
Since she launched the business in May, Mandy has been spruiking her wares at the Scarborough Sunset markets on Thursday evenings and other events such as the recent Indian Ocean Festival in her hometown Jurien Bay and Aggies Cottage Christmas market in Dandaragan.

Her baskets are available in a range of sizes, from a handy peg or fruit basket to washing and shopping baskets and even huge baskets for storage or whatever you fancy. Mandy selects the colour combinations with a natural eye, using what’s at hand and weaving the stories of the ropes into her creations. All pieces are unique, and Mandy is happy to make them to order – if you’d like your own piece of handwoven coastal history you can contact Mandy via her Facebook page The Fishermans Daughter.