A Whakatāne artist is astonished that her quilt has had to be removed from the 10-day art exhibition that opened last weekend because it has caused offence to a visitor.
Barbara Key's Gollyville quilt was pulled from the Art House's Carving Symposium and Art Exhibition on Monday, the Whakatane Beacon reported.
The exhibition is taking place over 10 days at the Art House and War Memorial Hall.
The intricately stitched quilt is for sale for $1500 and Key said it took her a year to make. It depicts fictional golliwog characters in several scenes in the make-believe town of Gollyville, including of the Gollyville Fire Dept, Golly Locks Barber Shop, Gollyville Saloon and Gollyville Town Hall.
"I am in absolute disbelief that somebody could be so upset about something like that. I am sorry I have upset them, but I can't understand how a person can be so upset about it so nobody else gets to see it," Key said.
Arts and Crafts Society president Pam Mossman, who is managing the exhibition in the Art House where the quilt was hung, said they received a complaint from a visitor to the exhibition.
"I hung [the quilt] here because everyone who is a member of the arts society has a right to hang their art in here," she said.
"I actually looked at it and thought, 'look at the work in this, this is absolutely gorgeous …. those were my thoughts, it wasn't, 'Crikey' ...
"I have only had one person complain. We had 200 people here over the weekend, it was just a constant stream of people. I received a letter of complaint."
The person who complained wrote that although they believed the artist had no desire to offend, and that the artist and others of a similar age group might look at work with a sense of "nostalgia", for others the work sent "an entirely different message and causes great offence".
"The subject matter is divisive and detracts from the overall aim of the exhibition," the visitor to the exhibition wrote.
Mossman said as president of the Whakatane Arts and Crafts Society she had to be sympathetic to complaints.
"We do not want to offend anybody and of course I am of the age group where we grew up with these without knowing," she said of the golliwogs depicted in the quilt.
Key, 74, said she had shown the piece to her grandchildren, who loved it and thought it was amazing, although this was the first time it has been exhibited.
"This is the first time I have ever had such a negative response to it. I finished it last year and it took me 12 months to make it, it has a little bit of machine stitching around the edge, but the quilting and all the pieces on it are all done by hand and it has taken a lot of time to do it.
"My apologies for offending [the visitor], it was not meant to offend, it was meant to show a piece of art that people could enjoy."
The piece is also a collectible and limited-edition quilt and has a certificate stating how many quilts with this pattern have been made.
"I mean years ago in my day we had golliwogs as toys, and nobody thought anything of it.
"I think people make too much out of things that are for children, but children don't even think about it.
"People are making mountains out of molehills and putting ideas in people's heads that were never there originally."
Auckland University School of Social Sciences and Public Policy associate professor Camille Nahkid told NZME a golliwog was "offensive" as it was a caricature that belittles one race for the entertainment of another.
The golliwog is a black fictional character that began appearing in children's books in the late 1800s and later became popular children's toy.
It is characterised by black skin, eyes rimmed in white, big red lips and frizzy hair.
Nahkid said the golliwog diminished and belittled a race that was packaged and presented as a childish icon.
She said there was "nothing harmless" about it.