Late last year, Rick Rudd reclaimed valuable working space at his Quartz Museum of Studio Ceramics when he finished unpacking and sorting the huge Simon Manchester Collection.
Simon was a Wellington businessman who began collecting important New Zealand ceramics more than 30 years ago. He died at the age of 61 in July last year. He had expressed a wish that his collection of about 3000 works should be gifted to the Rick Rudd Foundation.
Rick says the job of packing the collection and bringing it to Whanganui was time-consuming and challenging, with every piece having to be documented and catalogued, work that will continue into the future. Some of the pieces are large and very heavy.
"We managed," says Rick.
While a lot of the collection is on display at Quartz, much is waiting for space, stored on metal shelving kindly donated and constructed by Michael Eden of GDM Retail Systems.
"That's incredibly generous," says Rick.
Simon's treasures are on display upstairs at Quartz, in a room set up to evoke some of the feeling of Simon's Wellington apartment.
There are more than 250 pieces in that room, arranged in such a way that it looks like no other part of Quartz. Other works from Simon Manchester have been used to flesh out other potters' collections at Quartz, such as adding works and the name of Martin Poppelwell (born in 1969) to the exhibition called Boys of the 70s.
"Then I've added Simon's Lissamans to the Elizabeth Lissaman collection, his Len Castles to the Len Castle collection, his John Parkers to the John Parker collection and his Anneke Borrens to the Anneke Borren collection," says Rick. "So there are now more than 500 pieces of his on show."
As well as ceramic works, all sorts of ephemera came with the Simon Manchester collection, including books, catalogues and photographs. The collection will also enable Rick to hold exhibitions of New Zealand potters' works without having to look afield to source pieces.
The huge legacy has raised the profile of Quartz nationally, and Whanganui by extension.
"There are people coming from Wellington asking if I've got the Simon Manchester collection yet," says Rick.