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The Dreamers #98 - With Nastia Gladushchenko

The Dreamers #98 - With Nastia Gladushchenko

Venturing out to the Blue Mountains, we had the pleasure of meeting mural artist Nastia Gladushchenko and her family. Nastia’s art explores the interplay between our surroundings and our inner selves through her oversized, abstract depictions of flora.




Hey Nastia, tell us about you and your family.

Mia is our 21-month-old, sweet and independent daughter who is currently all about chickens, butter snacks and having a big old dance party in the living room at all times of the day.  

 Frida is our 4-year-old fluffy golden British shorthair cat. She is playful, a cuddle bug, very patient, and smitten with Mia.  

 Damien, 42 years old, is my partner in life, crime, and creative projects. He’s a man of action. He’s obsessed with finding the best/most interesting light and telling a good story through dreamy, cinematic photographs. Damien is a photographer who shoots weddings, elopements, portraits, and adventures around the world.  

 If he’s not shooting, he’s probably busy in the garden, regenerating our little piece of land in the mountains with native plants or working on his dough for the most delicious pizzas.  

 Nastia, that’s me. I’m 36 years old, a dreamer, painter, and mural artist obsessed with covering buildings in lush, botanical public art (with a past life as an interior designer). I’m extremely indecisive except when it comes to colour and plants. I’m the queen of our chaotic/rambling fruit and veggie garden.

The Blue Mountains is such a beautiful place. Can you share with us what it’s like to live there? 

It is! About five years ago, during a particularly hot summer living in the inner west of Sydney, we realised how silly it was for two people whose work is so deeply inspired by nature to live in the city, so we made a move quite spontaneously!  

 We now live in Katoomba in a home we designed together and built two years ago, and we feel so privileged to call this part of the world our home. We had to comply with a lot of bushfire restrictions, so our house exterior is simple and shed-like. 

Still, we wanted to bring some soul and softness to the interior by using lots of sustainable timbers, handcrafted tiles, joinery made with love by our mate Jan Walter of Moritz Interiors, sentimental pieces of art, homewares collected from our adventures and lots of plants.  

 We love living in a tight-knit community where everyone has time to chat and cook/deliver a meal if you’re having a tough time. The cooler climate means we enjoy snow days, orange autumn leaves, lilac blossoms, and a cosy fire, which all help us stay in sync with nature’s rhythms.  

 Our favourite places to visit here is Mount Vic Flicks for special movie screenings in a retro setting and the best soup! Day Gallery Blackheath, where I get to show work alongside some of my favourite artists. Logan Brae Apple Orchard for crisp seasonal apples and warm, spiced juice (and warm pies). Ates for the best celebratory lunches and dinners. Tempus and Black Cockatoo Bakery in Katoomba for breakfast treats and coffee. The Blue Mountains Food Co-op feeds us so well. Yesterday Store, for the best vintage clothes and chats with mates. The Blue Mountains Cultural Centre is great for amazing local art, epic travelling shows, and street art in Katoomba. The beautiful art deco house and gardens of the Everglades in Leura are for springtime picnics and interior inspiration. Blue Mountains Sauna for chill time, Fire & Flood Store and the new Landslide Gallery in Wentworth Falls for carefully crafted and curated wares and a dose of contemporary art.  

 We love to go for dips in Wentworth Falls Lake. There’s a magic little area away from the crowds amongst red earth and gum trees. Pre-Mia, we loved to go for more adventurous wild swimming in secret waterholes at the end of big hikes, but for now, places like the Jellybean pools and local swimming pools are perfect for our little water baby. 

Rosey Ravelston Books is in a gorgeous new spot, and they have the most delicious cakes by magician Meltdown Artisan, which I’m mildly obsessed with. Our favourite walks are the Lyrebird Dell track for the lush ferns and waterfalls and Lockleys Pylon for wildflowers in Spring. At the end of our road is a dreamy little track with a secret lookout that we often walk to in the afternoon.

We are OBSESSED with your artwork. How did you become an artist?

I’ve loved making art since I was a teeny kiddo going to art school in my hometown of Odessa, Ukraine. After moving to Australia with my parents when I was seven, I started attending informal weekend art classes with a dear late friend of my mums, and I began to understand the power of expressing myself through art in this new country, speaking a new language and being surrounded by lots of new faces.  

 I decided to study Interior Architecture at UNSW and worked as an interior designer, creative lead, head of public art, art curator and florist in Sydney and Brussels. I finally pursued art full-time when I was selected for a couple of public art commissions. 

The seed of public art was probably planted when I studied Interior Architecture in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, and had the opportunity to experience European art festivals, installations and a more hands-on approach to art making at the art/design school there.  

My hope is to make inclusive works that break down cultural or language barriers and help people appreciate the natural world enough to want to care for it. I adore finding parallels between humans and flowers/plants and exploring this theme in a playful way.  

 In the last couple of years, my practice has evolved to include smaller-scale pieces and digital artwork collaborations. For example, I’ve loved seeing my artwork woven into textiles and printed onto beautiful packaging. I’m also so grateful for the support of Day Gallery in Blackheath, as that drives my art practice and gives me the confidence to keep creating.

Could you share a story behind one of the murals you have created? 

I recently had an opportunity to design a mural for a skincare and perfume store in Milan, Italy, which was an amazing collaborative experience. As mentioned earlier, I studied Interior Architecture, and one of my closest friends and amazing interior designer Stephanie Ehrlich (@Interior_stories_), now lives in Milan and reached out to work on this project together.  

 We had always dreamed of creating an exciting and playful space together while studying, so this was a dream come true. Researching lush and iconic Italian fruits, fragrant flowers and plants and working with Steph on a colour palette to complement the interiors but still POP was a lot of fun. This was one mural I didn’t get to paint myself, but the local painters did a fantastic job translating all my grids and detailed drawings onto the wall. The end result is a carefully crafted, warm, bold and lush interior space that captivates visitors.

What’s it like being an artist and Mama? Does Mia like to get involved? 

It is so much more fun than I could have ever imagined and has given me a new perspective on my practice. At first, I found it hard to have the mental space and time to get into my studio, but as Mia’s grown, she’s inspiring me to work in all new, more free and playful ways. I put her little easel into my studio, and she adores painting too, which has been so cool to see. I think I’m her biggest fan.  

 When I’ve got a mural on we travel to wherever I’m painting as a family and stay a few nights. That’s created some of my favourite memories because it takes us all over Australia and to places we’re not usually likely to stay for very long. Pre-mural breakfasts out in new neighbourhoods, afternoon post-work swims, midday picnics on mural sites and, of course, so many new friends for Mia (my assistants, clients and everyone she meets while out on adventures with Damien as I’m painting). It’s moments like these that make us very grateful to both have the flexibility in our work to live life like this, even though it can still be quite chaotic and stressful at times.

Any exciting plans coming up in the next year? 

I’m working on a couple of new mural projects, one of which is for a rooftop bar in Surry Hills with one of my favourite Sydney-based Interior Designers, Bianca Isgro (@Studioisgro). I’m also exploring a more ‘invisible’ mural/painting style by experimenting with many shades of white and a reflective medium that catches the sun. I painted the first one for our dining room at home, and as the sun moves throughout the day, the mural evolves and changes (pictured above). 

I adore creating site-specific and ever-changing works like this, so I’ll likely experiment with smaller paintings in this style, too. On the family front, we’ll be tagging along to the Daintree Rainforest with Damien in a couple of months, where he’s photographing for the Daintree Eco Lodge and a sunrise elopement, so we’re very excited to discover this stunning part of the world. 

Fav Banabae pieces?  

I love Mia’s twin set and little yellow sunhat. I’m also a big fan of this retro-inspired yellow blouse. Damien’s regular cap rotation includes the Park Hangs cap, the throw in Mia’s room and the cushion in our living room is where I fall fast asleep as soon as I rest my head to watch a movie. 

Shop Nastia's family favourites:

Babyccino Splice Organic Rib Twinset
Buttercup Organic Cotton Bucket Hat
Square Strip Cord Cushion
Limonchello Floral Linen Resort Shirt
Park Hangs Cord Adult Cap
Take A Day Trip Tapestry Blanket
Nastia Gladushchenko

Nastia Gladushchenko

Botanical Murals | Paintings | Installations