A note from the Director
Many people associate the name White Rabbit with serendipity and surprise. And the White Rabbit Collection did arise from a series of chance encounters. The first was in 1999, when I came across a wall sculpture by Wang Zhiyuan in the storeroom of a Sydney art gallery. It showed whimsical fusions of humans, animals and angels, and I was immediately struck by the artist’s inventiveness and technical mastery.
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 the Chinese art world. A few years later, as a surprise present, 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 name for the White Rabbit Gallery—which the Neilson Foundation opened in 2009—popped into my head one day and just stuck. 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. The establishment of the Gallery, though, was very deliberate. 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.