Interview With David Williams from White Rabbit Gallery

In the build up to Mother’s Day we sat down with creatives, business owners and curators from selection of some of our favourite spots in Sydney to get their tips for a cliche free, thoroughly unique Mother’s Day!

Chippendale’s White Rabbit Gallery is one of our favourite spots on our Chippendale walking tour. The gallery has earned international acclaim for its dazzling collection of Contemporary Asian Art. Unlike other galleries, it does not have a permanent collection, instead housing a constantly changing, cutting edge exhibitions, each more fascinating than the last.

If that wasn’t enough, the Gallery also houses an utterly charming tea room, and design boutique, making it the perfect place to take a creatively inclined mother. We sat down with curator David Williams to discuss their latest exhibition, his favourite things about the tea room, boutique and his favourite spots in Redfern.

Can you tell us a bit about the current exhibition at White Rabbit?
“The Dark Matters” explores the ways contemporary Chinese artists are using the classical Chinese palette of grey, black and white in their practice. The ancient Chinese got their ink from smoky oil lamps, brushing away deposited soot and mixing it into a paste that hardened into “stones”. This black was pure, indelible and did not fade, and they fell in love with it. They used it not only for writing but for painting, which they saw as just another way to express their thoughts. By adjusting the ink’s dilution and the density of their brushstrokes, painters could create a multitude of shades, from deepest blue-black to palest dove grey. Black had always been the colour of mystery, night, the void. The better the artists got to know black ink, the more superficial, even gaudy, colour seemed. As the Daoist philosopher Laozi declared: “Colours cause the eye to go blind.” Black—utterly simple yet infinitely subtle—allowed one to see the truth.

Chinese artists no longer live in a simple, natural, orderly world. They get their blacks not just from ink stones but from printer cartridges, spray cans, propane torches, X-ray film, newsprint, polyester, computer bits and steel. And they use blacks to convey realities the classical masters never dreamed of: oil spills, air pollution, megacities, mass production and political machinations. The artists in this show don’t shun light or colour, but in using them they follow Laozi’s advice: “Know the white, but hold to the black.” Containing more than ever, the dark also conceals more than ever. And it matters more than ever that we see.

What are some of your favourite items on the menu at the White Rabbit Tea House?
I can’t get enough of the Chicken and Coriander Dumplings with a pot of Ginseng Oolong tea. Delicious.  Although our new gluten-free Organic Tofu and Coriander dumplings with a Lychee Iced Tea comes a very close second.

Other than coming to the exhibition, what are some other ways people can incorporate the White Rabbit into a Mother’s Day gift? Do you have any favourite items in the White Rabbit shop?
A trip to the Gallery and a treat for Mum in the Tea House has become a tradition for many of our visitors, it’s a great way to spend some quality time with your Mum and then have a chat about the exhibition in the Tea House. We have quite a few gifts that are unique to our Gallery Shop, such as ornamental plates and silk scarves from the artist Bu Hua. Late last year we sourced the really terrific Lumio lights and they have proven to be really popular gifts, I couldn’t resist buying one for my house. The great thing about the shop is that all budgets are covered, from $1 to over $1000. It’s going to be too late for Mother’s Day, but we will are waiting for a delivery of limited edition works by the artist Xu Zhen, they will only be available at eh White Rabbit in Australia so I can’t wait to show them off!

What are some of your favourite things to do in Redfern and Chippendale after a visit to the gallery?
There is so much to do in the area now. Terrific cafes and bars and Spice Alley is a definite must. It’s always great to visit the local Chippendale Galleries like Pom Pom, Ambush and The Commercial. And having Carriageworks so close to us makes it a great place to visit after seeing the White Rabbit.

You can book your tour of Chippendale and Redfern here.

Artist: Yang Mushi

Artist: Yang Mushi