Nice Assets is the work of Nicole Gaston, a Newtown-based craftswoman who creates fun colourful ceramics.
Follow me on @nice.assets for regular updates.
Background and kaupapa
Originally from Chicago, I began working with clay while studying towards my PhD in Information Studies in Wellington, New Zealand. My PhD focused on how people from non-Western cultures engage with information, and was underpinned by my anti-capitalist, activist and social justice values. I like to think of my pottery as an extension of my professional and academic work — another tool I can use to explore and communicate my thoughts on equity, power and society, always with the aim of working toward decolonisation.
I identify as someone of Ashkenazi Jewish and mixed European ancestry, raised in America’s Midwest. But don’t forget ethnicity is a construct! I have lived and worked in West Africa, the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, Europe, Canada, the USA, and for the last 12 years in New Zealand Aotearoa. I prefer to self-identify as tauiwi rather than pākehā. My pronouns are she/her. I acknowledge my privilege as a cis-white woman and actively work to amplify the voices of those with less societal privilege than me.
My experiences living and working in diverse communities and with people from many different cultural backgrounds have informed every aspect of my life. I am on a lifelong journey to continue learning and unlearning.
My approach to creating ceramics and partnering with others on commissioned work is underpinned by my deepest respect and admiration for all cultural expressions. I take the risk of cultural appropriation very seriously and make sure I have permission whenever I use non-Western languages or cultural symbols in my work.
Ceramics gives me the opportunity to explore difficult issues in a way that can be both playful and humorous. Often the work of decolonisation can be confronting and challenging, especially for those of us who have long held dominant or privileged roles in society.
I feel so lucky to be able to work with the medium of clay and other natural materials to engage people in conversations around objects of daily use.
Creative expression is also extremely important for my mental wellbeing and having the opportunity to make the kind of work that explores these kinds of issues (and the fact that people like it, and buy it!) is a privilege and an honour that I never expected. It brings me so much joy to be able to do this little project.
Exhibitions and awards
In 2018 I won the Waikato Ceramics award for Best First-time Exhibitor at the annual Ceramicus exhibition.
I also exhibited work in the 2019 Ceramicus exhibition (photograph above) and the KINK 2021 group show.
In addition to pots I make lots of other stuff, at my home workshop in Newtown, Wellington, Aotearoa.