Discover the vibrant world of Aléjandro Lauren and the merging of queer and Aboriginal art
For regulars to the Olive Tree Market you'll perhaps be familiar with the vibrant Aléjandro Lauren market stall. Brought to you by the equally colourful Wayde Clarke, Wayde’s striking artworks stand out from the crowd and as we learn, are a reflection of his personality and authentic self,
"I’ve always been a colourful person, I’ve always been into prints and patterns. I am the sort of person who likes to wear stripes and checks together. I like to tell a story by wearing it."
Meeting Wayde at his Edgeworth home which he shares with husband Daniel and pups Cher, Tina, Milo and Alfie the Parrot, the journey of Aléjandro Lauren is best described as an authentic one, with Wayde explaining that being himself has allowed people to relate to his art,
"Being authentic has really helped me to grow my business, there is that humanity there and people enjoy that, it has to have a story. As I say, let your authentic self shine."
"I am always harping on to people about how authenticity should be the number one goal. To make great connections you have to be authentic and be yourself, otherwise people won’t see the real you.”
It was in 2018 that Wayde first began selling his artworks, in the most unexpected of ways,
"I was scribbling away at a coffee shop and a stranger saw it over my shoulder. At the time it was just a hobby for me, it was a great mental release, and they asked if I could send them some of my work and they bought it."
"I then started an Etsy store which went really well, and then I started getting noticed around Newcastle and it just took off. It's been quite organic but it also has happened quite quickly."
When asked what his first memories of art were, Wayde explains it takes him back to his early childhood days, with his mum in Dubbo where he was born and raised,
“My mum was really into ceramics so we would paint them, when we ran out of ceramics we’d start on paper, it was either the Sony PS1 or drawing.”
"I continued on with art throughout my whole high school experience but I didn’t do any training post-school. My art was only ever for me, which was why I never wanted to sell it. They were my experiences from whatever trauma I’d been through, and art was my release."
A proud Wiradjuri/Birpai man Wayde explains his work has changed considerably over time, now preferring to mix both his queer and Indigenous cultures together resulting in a vibrant coming together of colour and story,
“I look back on my early work and think it was so simple, now I am all about the detail, detail, detail. When someone looks at my artwork I want them to see something new, and a new favourite thing.”
"My traditional style was queer art with lots of women, and naked men. I am very body positive with my art, I want people to feel represented, and I never put faces into my artwork, I’d rather people see themselves and their own characteristics."
“That was my main style and then I stepped into my Indigenous art which I describe as a contemporary Aboriginal style, not the traditional style.”
“I’ve moved around a lot over the years so I want to be able to tell my story, rather than my elders story, but you can see there are still many heavy Indigenous references.”
“Growing up I didn’t have a lot of connection to my culture and growing into the man I am today I’d really like to learn more about it, and my art has really connected me to who I am as an Aboriginal man.”
In addition to his queer and Aboriginal influences Wayde explains how his love of Australian fauna provides much of his inspiration, and as Wayde put the finishes touches on one of his original artworks it’s easy to see why his beautiful garden inspires him in the way that it does,
“Australia has a lot of beautiful native plants and we don’t have enough of them in our own gardens and it's something I really enjoy.”
To complement his artwork, Wayde also offers workshops which range from educational style classes where you can learn about Aboriginal culture and art, to the more relaxed Boozy Brushstrokes. Coming to you, Wayde provides the tote for you to draw on, art equipment, aprons and a whole lot of sass.
Keeping busy and giving back is a part of Wayde’s mantra, and this only being the beginning of his art journey it’s going to be a fascinating one to follow.