I have been a fan of NG Art Gallery for some time. After all, this is the place where Lizzie Buckmaster (who I featured here) has exhibited. But it's an interesting space because it's not just a gallery. There's also a restaurant - Mission Restaurant & Bar. And one of the talented women behind the venture, Nicky Ginsberg, is also involved in Sydney's "Food for the Future Fair" - which will be held this Saturday (11 October; in conjunction with Sydney's Good Food Month). Nicky is incredibly busy and there's so many ventures to tell you about, but I think it's best for her to give you a taste of what she's been up to.

How and why did you start NG Art Gallery and Mission Bar Restaurant? For many years I had wanted to open a gallery with a restaurant and bar. I am passionate about the visual arts and having been in the art world for more than 15 years now; I am well aware of how difficult it can be as a financially viable business and knew that I must do it differently. In my previous life, ie prior to being an art dealer, I had my own cafe in Paddington and before that I had set up a wine bar for an advertising agency in London, so I was completely comfortable with the concept and had the necessary experience to make it work. In addition to this, I am of course passionate about food and if I could do everything then I would be in the kitchen as well creating beautiful dishes. Suffice to say that Piera Potter, my business partner and I design the menu and have our chefs implement it. Piera's role is more about running the restaurant and mine is the gallery, although we are both very involved in all aspects of the business. Piera has had 25 years in the restaurant business, owning such places as Pegrums in the late 80s and then went onto to Darleys at Lilianfels in the Blue Mountains and finally ended up running Bambini Trust in the city for five years. So between us a wealth of 'know how' and experience. She is also a pastry chef and makes the most wonderful pastry, cakes and biscuits to die for!
What has been the response? We have been open 15 months now and the response has been so positive. The collaborative nature of NG Art and Mission has given us the opportunity to host our Feast for the Senses dinners whereby we invite interesting speakers to be in discussion about a topic of interest such as 'art, the theatre of the absurd' over a delicious dinner with wine. This concept has grown organically out of the collaboration. We now hold these Feasts every two weeks and they are so enjoyed and can sometimes attract a waiting list! We show both established and emerging artists and the overflow of the exhibition is always installed on the gallery wall in the restaurant as well. This encourages diners to climb up the stairs into the gallery, so the exposure has been wonderful for the artists. Many more people would be viewing their work, whereas if we were only a gallery, we would never be getting the volume of people seeing the artwork. People are time poor, but food is always an attraction. Even more encouraging is that we sell more work this way!

How has the experience been different to what you expected? We are working many more hours! We are driven by our passion to make this work, we are brimming with ideas and we are unstoppable. There is much competition out there, so we must be creative thinkers in order to survive and we must be astute business women.

What has been a highlight? There are so many highlights. The artists' work would be the biggest highlight, seeing it for the first time is so thrilling - and having that immediate connection with it, where it talks to you on so many levels. On another level our most recent inclusion in the SMH Good Food Guide with a score of 13.5! We have only been open 15 months, so we are able to languish in this moment of glory!

Where do you look to for inspiration? I am a lateral thinker - I tend to think big and have ideas that I must implement. Often this happens in the middle of the night. I am not sure what triggers it off, but reading or just being open to other people, life and the world around me. I am a sensitive person and care enormously about social injustice, the environment, the carbon footprint, animal protection etc... all sorts of world issues and sometimes I will create an exhibition around one of these themes, such as our current exhibition Food for Thought, ie Food for the Future. We have invited 30 artists to interpret this theme.

What's the best lesson you've learnt? To be honest and to have humility.

What are you passionate about right now? Everything.

If you could meet one person, living or dead, who would it be? I saw a clairvoyant recently for the first time! She told me that in my previous life I was an artist. I would have liked to have met me then. I do not paint now and would have liked to have seen my artworks!

What are you looking forward to? Christmas, because I will go on holiday, hopefully to India.

What are you reading? I only have time for art magazines at the moment and the weekend newspapers. Although I was an avid reader before this and loved browsing book shops. Now I don't dare because I don't want to be tempted!

Images courtesy of NG Art Gallery

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