For a country who’s culture and art has largely been ‘on-loan’ from Europe for much of its modern existence, the value and significance of galleries such as MOMA in Tasmania and The White Rabbit Gallery in Sydney cannot be overstated for the future of art in Australia. By bringing our attention to the modern art of our closer – and arguably more significant – neighbours, we are able to expand our understanding of the changing cultural landscape of our own country.
The White Rabbit Gallery is possibly one of my favourite galleries and one where I’ve spent a lot of time.
Located in an old Rolls Royce service depot in Sydney’s inner west suburb of Chippendale, the space, while not vast, has the capacity to gracefully contain art that is substantial in both size and concept without crowding or overwhelming the visitor.
The gallery was founded in 2009 by Judith Neilson. Zimbabwean born Neilson immigrated to Australia in 1983, and was inspired to open The White Rabbit Gallery after traveling to China in 2001.
Since opening, the gallery has become home to more than 1500 pieces of Chinese and Taiwanese art and sculpture from the 21st Century.
Each piece in the collection has been hand picked by Neilson from galleries throughout China and Taiwan. She chooses the art based on the single criteria that the art ‘speaks’ to her. To an extent the artist and the medium are irrelevant – leading to a collection that is indefinably cohesive and which sits comfortably within the space of the gallery.
“Good art is indeed hard to define. For me it is art that is beautiful and that also “speaks” to me. I don't think an artist can do that without being technically proficient and having a good sense of form, colour, line, and the balance between them all—and how to disrupt that balance in interesting ways.” Judith Neilson
The gallery is home to 2 exhibitions each year and is closed in both August and February as each new exhibition is set up. Neilson travels to two to three times each year to curate and collect more items for the gallery.
Also housed in the gallery is a library of contemporary Chinese art and artists and is home to the White Rabbit Book Club, a free event held on the second Sunday of each month.
I was reminded about the discordant beauty of the type of art one finds at The White Rabbit when I recently visited the recent exhibition Heavy Artillery and I look forward to Neilson’s next offering Vile Bodies, due to open on September 10th 2016.
I am also, like many of Neilson’s fans, awaiting news on her latest venture, Phoenix, a combination of performance space, private gallery and sculpture garden, also situated in Chippendale. The project is rumoured to be worth 41 million dollars and is currently under a press lock-down with no comment about the project being released. Which only adds to the anticipation of what is to come next from Neilson and her extraordinary taste in art!
Images are the property of Jennifer Aaron and were taken at the recent Heavy Artillery exhibition.