Space-oddities-JUNKYARD-ANTIQUES-3From a box of prosthetic eyes to an original photo of Elvis walking stoned out of a club, Wayne Lawrence has certainly bought and sold some weird and wonderful things. He’s also got a few tales to tell, like this one:

“I was at an auction and noticed a very ornate 8ft 6 mirror. In the room the going price seemed low, so I went for it and won. Afterwards a guy came over asked what I bought. When I told him he said: “Oh! The gay mirror.” Only then did I see it had gilted phallic symbols all around it. As I was living in Brighton, I thought it would be a great item there, so took it to a couple of fairs. People kept saying it looked like it had penises all over it. Eventually I put it into Lots Road auctions where it sold for about 4 times as much as I paid. I’m not sure who bought it; clearly someone with unusual taste!”

This has been Wayne’s life for about the last 10 years: buying and selling things with a story. “The interest has just evolved. At first it was about profit, but I’m great at finding objects where there’s something to learn. If I wanted to I could just buy and sell loads of wardrobes and chests of drawers, but there’s nothing to learn from chests of drawers.”

Born in Kings Norton, Wayne moved to Australia in 1996 when he was 24 – he’s now 41 – at a point where he didn’t like much about Birmingham. “When I left it was pre Bull Ring and before the JQ had become anywhere near a liveable area.” When he returned to the UK it was to Brighton, and it was here that he was introduced to a whole other world: “My next door neighbour was an old guy and seasoned antique dealer. He took me to an antiques market and I fell in love.”

He started out buying all sorts of stuff – “a bit like Del Boy” – but always had an interest in the unusual. So in 2013, after a few years as Brighton’s one-man answer to the Trotter family, he created Junkyard Antiques. Two years on, his eyes are on expansion and on his city of birth, where he’s taken a unit in the Jewellery Quarter, of which he’s now a big fan: “I love the JQ and think there’s a lot more to happen there – more buildings changing, more design, more cool and funky people interested in alternative furniture.”

Wayne would like a shop, but really doesn’t see himself sitting in it all day: “I love being out looking for stuff to sell.” In fact, he rarely takes a day off. “If I’m in a town and there’s a junk shop, garage sale or antiques store, I’ll go. I get up early and go to markets and car boot sales; very annoying at 6am on a Sunday, but you just might find the item that makes the day. I once found an original Peter Blake signed artwork that I paid £5 for and has been valued at £500.”

So are there any negatives to this work life made from passion? As it happens, there is one:

“You have to sift through a lot of crap.”

Junkyard Antiques
07832 340869