A note from the Director
Many people associate the name White Rabbit with Alice in Wonderland or rabbits being pulled from a hat. The White Rabbit Collection has also been a story of chance encounters and almost magical surprises. The first one happened in 1999, when I came across a wall sculpture in the storeroom of a Sydney art gallery. It showed a series of fantastical creatures, part human, part animal and part angel, and I couldn’t help wondering who had made it. Whoever the artist was, his work was highly creative and technically superb.
That discovery led to a meeting with Wang Zhiyuan, who became a family friend and regaled us with news of the exciting changes taking place in Chinese contemporary art. A few years later, as a surprise gift, I took my younger daughter to China. We met up with Wang Zhiyuan, who had moved to Beijing and opened a studio.
That led to perhaps the biggest surprise of all—seeing the extraordinary art he had been raving about. The best of it had all the qualities that had made his work leap out at me. It was bursting with ideas and energy, vibrant, often humorous, imaginative, technically superb and utterly compelling. I was hooked, and wanted to start collecting straight away.
The White Rabbit Gallery—which the Neilson Foundation opened in 2009—more or less named itself. The architects were asking for a name, and I suddenly thought of a white porcelain figurine I had bought in China, of a girl holding a white rabbit. So I said, What about White Rabbit? They liked it, and it stuck. But the establishment of the Gallery was a very deliberate matter. We wanted to share with Australians and the world the best of Chinese contemporary art since 2000—a turning point that I think of as the Big Bang. I hope all visitors to the Gallery will experience the surprise, delight and fascination that the White Rabbit Collection’s artists and their works have given the Neilson family.