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The Simon Manchester Collection

The Simon Manchester Collection

Dunbar Sloane, Auckland

Auction at 6pm, Wednesday 7 September, 2011


Thursday 1st September 2011

Simon Manchester trawled op shops, auctions, and antique stores for twenty years.

Beginning in the early 80s he gradually amassed a collection of works most people ignored.

Simon valued works reflecting New Zealand’s visual history – hand-coloured photos, advertising and tourism posters, paintings and graphic art – that were not valuable, but “powerful and exciting.”

The era when he could mine those veins of ignored visual culture is over, and finally the value of these works is recognised.

He laughs when asked how he could afford to collect work amounting to an auction of 259 lots.

“I was a small-business owner, with a fashion label in Wellington. Once I went on a business trip to the South Island, made time to visit op shops, and returned home with a full vehicle.”

He says he couldn’t afford a McCahon, but he could frame up posters by commercial artists that were just as inspiring.

Simon speaks passionately of the feeling he had that the works were redolent of New Zealand culture, and were considered as underground as street art at that time.

“There was no information available, barely anything in books, I really had to dig. The National Library was one of the best sources, and ironically they now come to me to ask about certain areas of the collection.”

If this was a labour of love, why is he selling the whole collection?

“It’s really challenging to let this collection go. It will put a fullstop on a period that was tremendously exciting.”

Parallel to this collection, Simon’s become an expert and collector of ceramics. But space is at a premium, and he’s decided to sell an entire collection rather than break up the works.

“I’ve kept four posters – that’s it. It’s hard to look at my walls at the moment, but I really hope the works will end up just as appreciated in homes or institutions preserving them for posterity.”


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