Thursday, November 25, 2010

White Rabbit Gallery

The White Rabbit Gallery is at 30 Balfour Street, Chippendale (very near Bowie) and is the result of an amazing act of philanthropy by Kerr and Judith Neilson, who acquired a four storey building (a former knitting factory) to display their collection of contemporary Chinese art. It's a beautiful, clean space, which reminded me for some reason of a miniaturised Tate Modern. There's also a peaceful tea house, where beautiful, fragrant Chinese tea is served with delicate side plates, either sweet or savoury. It's a wonderful space, which only houses around 1/3 of the still-growing collection at a time; the exhibition changes once every six months. The women working there wear subtle uniforms of pretty patterned dresses.

On the ground floor, spanning three storeys, there's a sculpture that was clearly built for the space, consisting of found plastic bottles in a vertiginous tower: from below, it's a cynical Christmas tree, from above, a sea monster about to lash out. On the first floor there's a 500 kilo pile, like a zen gravel garden, of painstakingly handpainted sunflower seeds which took 80 people six months to complete. On the second floor there's a collection of beautiful, delicately painted bottles, part of a quest by the artist to paint 10,000 bottles in his lifetime (there are 60 bottles here). The top floor currently houses an amazing paper sculpture in two parts (the first three photos, below): one, a man like a faun, whose head has begun to spill over in concertina waves; and two, an undulating, snake-like creature which is, on closer examination, the remains of the same man, a metamorphosis leaving only feet, hands and face intact.

Paper (2010), paper. Li Hongbo



Urinal (2001), fibreglass. Cao Hui

Great Mentor (Heartbeat) (2009), LED display, teak, paper collage. Liu Dao

Object Series (2007–), glass bottles, mineral paints. Liu Zhuoguan

Basketball Hoops (2008), neon tubes, mixed media. Zhou Wendou

The Flying Bird is Motionless (2009), fibreglass, polyurethane, DVD. Wang Jianwei

Sunflower Seeds (2009), ceramic. Ai Weiwei

Dialogue (2006), discarded radiators. Yan Jun

Thrown to the Wind (2010), steel, plastic. Wang Zhiyuan


  1. Have recently seen this place advertised at the Newtown Dendy Cinema. You give a much better idea of the nature and scale of the place. Definitely a must do, now that I have seen this post.

  2. It's definitely worth a visit, elj. As we have discussed, there's an ambivalence about photographing other people's art: it's theirs and not mine; I can't take any credit. Instead, I've tried to create an inmpression of the space around the works. It certainly made an impression on me.

  3. Definitely one of the best galleries in Sydney, whether you are a fan of contemporary art or not.

  4. A fantastic place...a must see on our next trip down under

  5. It is excellent. Highly recommended.