At The Bar with Arts Matter Founders Michelle Grey & Susan Armstrong

Art and culture programming duo Michelle Grey and Susan Armstrong soak up the good times with a descent bottle of Mt Yengo Shiraz with a side hustle of art. They’re all about bringing communities together via their business Arts Matter –  and curate everything from interstate travel guided tours of all things eclectic in the art world, to hosting a series of salon-style programs in contemporary spaces.

The childhood friends, who spent time living and working in the USA, are back in Sydney. They’ve created cool art clubs that bring like-minded folks together all in the name of art, music, design and architecture appreciation.

Having been on one of their art trails around Melbourne last year, they connect folks with art stories you just won’t get anywhere. Our pitstop included a private studio visit to NZ born ceramicist James Lemon’s Northcote pottery with plenty of one-on-one time to discuss his art approach.

Michelle and Susan talk to The Write Drop for our At The Bar series.

MY CITY 

Sydney. Apart from the surf and sun, there are so many subcultures and creative communities that makeup the rich fabric of the cultural landscape – unearthing and discovering new Sydney-based artistic talents never gets old.

FAVOURITE FOOD MEMORY

Tamaleria & Mexican Deli in Dulwich Hill. Their tamales are home made on the premises and come in an array of delicious flavors – chicken mole, beans and salsa and even a dessert option. They also have an incredible selection of imported Mexican products, including tamarind candy, homemade tortillas and authentic Mexican Hot Sauce.

FAVOURITE BAR

We recently curated the art for the newly opened Tanuki in Double Bay, through the restaurant the space opens up into an indoor / outdoor bar area that you can really get comfortable and watch the hours slip away. The stand out cocktail was Use Your Illusion – a fresh take on the classic Illusions of the 90’s with a hint of Japanese flavours, in the prettiest blue. Almost too pretty to drink!

DRINK THAT DESCRIBES

We’re Spicy Margarita of course – a little bit salty, a little bit sweet and a little bit spicy. All qualities we embody, and the key ingredients for a fun night out.

BEST HANGOVER CURE

The trick is to circumvent the hangover and drink one large glass of water, one cup of alka seltzer, and take two Panadols before bed. However, when you’re not in the headspace for a bedtime routine and the hangover hits the next morning, the best cure is always some comfort food – yum cha always hits the spot, our favourite is Eight in Chinatown/Haymarket.

BEST INTERSTATE BAR 

HER Music Room in Melbourne is the coolest venue we’ve seen in ages. With wall to wall vinyls and delicious drinks to keep you dancing all night. The sound system is world class, once you enter through those doors you are immediately transported and feel like you could be anywhere in the world.

FAVOURITE WINE WITH FRIENDS

We’re big fans of Mt Yengo wine, particularly Shiraz on a cold winter’s night. Not only is their wine delicious, we love the message behind the brand. Mt Yengo was established to blend the values of Australia’s First Nations People with the technology and quality brought by our newest inhabitants, aiming to create more than just a company or brand, but a community. This community is dedicated to bridging cultural divides, fostering cultural understanding, and embracing reconciliation and diversity.

FAVOURITE WINERY 

Bendooley Estate in the Southern Highlands. The grounds and the architecture of their buildings are incredible – an expansive property steeped in tradition, infused with a modern sensibility. We love that it’s the brainchild of Berkelouw Books founder Leo Berkelow, they even have an amazing bookstore on site, bringing a rich heritage of literature and the cultural arts to your experience.

NEXT DESTINATION

Japan. Always a regular on the itinerary for endless inspiration and a massive cultural fix, we highly recommend the Hakone Open Air Museum. With a permanent collection of over 100 masters including Miro, Picasso, Rodin and Moore, set amongst sprawling gardens, its interactive, relaxing and exciting all rolled into one.

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