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Ceramic dildo row puts New Zealand potters in a spin

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New Zealand pottery has been rocked by plans for a ceramic dildo-making workshop. AFP

Ceramic dildo row puts New Zealand potters in a spin

The genteel world of New Zealand pottery has been rocked by a row over plans for a ceramic dildo-making workshop, sparking allegations of bullying and online abuse.

Ceramicist Nicole Gaston said she wanted the Wellington Potters’ Association to hold the event with Iza Lozano, a visiting Mexican artist who has conducted similar workshops in her homeland.

Gaston said pottery dildos were easily sterilised, could be warmed, and unlike latex versions did not pose the risk of leeching chemicals into the body.

She said: “Some of the oldest ceramic works ever found are of phalluses . . . This isn’t exactly brand new, people have been doing this for thousands of years.”

But the 41-year-old public servant said the backlash against the proposal had been so extreme that she quit her voluntary role as Wellington Potters’ Association president.

She said: “Some committee members said it was needlessly provocative, someone else said it wasn’t appropriate . . . There was this very reactionary, pearl-clutching response, like: ‘How can we talk about sex, we should be ashamed of it.’”

Gaston said many men appeared to find the idea of women making dildos emasculating and she resigned when opposition to the workshop began to include personal attacks.

She said: “It’s not like we would have forced anyone to take part in the workshop . . . If you’re not interested, stay at home.”

Gaston said she had also been attacked online.

“I saw on Reddit that someone called me a nutcase and I thought: ‘I may be a little outspoken, but I don’t think I’m crazy,’” she said.

The dildo furore is not Gaston’s first experience with spicy ceramics – she won an award in 2018 for her work entitled “Vagina Teapot”.

She was surprised at how polarising the dildo workshop plan became, saying she envisaged it as an empowering project that was positive about sex.

There has been support from some Wellington Potters’ Association members, including Vivian Rodriguez, who acknowledged the workshop would challenge the moral ideas of some people.

She wrote in a letter to the association’s governing committee: “At the same time it will provide an excellent avenue for those wanting to explore different types of creative expression, gender identity, and sexual empowering through art.”

The Wellington Potters’ Association did not respond to requests for comment.

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