Guru Adrian

Guru Adrian


In 1983, Sydney-based artist David Art Wales was a quixotic 19 year old with a head full of questions about the meaning of life. At the same time, Sydney's newspapers were full of stories about self-declared mystics like Bhagwan, cults like Scientology and scandals in the Catholic church.

David decided that what we needed was a secular deity, in his words: “A Non-Prophet, Be-It-Yourself God of Fun. A Saviour Self, proud to admit he doesn't exist and has Nothing to offer.”

And so, Guru Adrian was born. The Guru You Have When You’re Not Having a Guru, armed with a cheeky grin and a catchy mantra: “Having Fun is Half the Fun.”

According to self-penned folklore, Guru Adrian discovered the secret of eternal youth in the Sydney suburb of Beecroft with his science kit in 1664 and has remained seven years old ever since.

Adrian dispensed his wisdom and “Adrianisms” via badges, stickers, street posters, T-shirts, graffiti and via his periodic pronouncements in ABC Triple J Radio’s fanzine Alan.

The boy guru was soon receiving fan mail from people claiming to be his disciples. A throng of “Adrianists” began to form. Indeed, Guru Adrian became a popular meme in Australia, and many would have fond memories of that little boy with the bad haircut and the toothy grin.

He was fun and funny.

When asked specifically who the boy in the photo is, David remains coy to this day: “People always ask me, 'Who is Guru Adrian?' and my answer's always the same: 'You are! He represents us as optimised and enlightened human beings.”

Here’s a few more Adrianisms:

• Realise Your Real Eyes
• Have Fun Here
• Be You Knighted
• Make Fun of Life

We didn’t hear much from the Guru during the 30 years David was living and working as an artist and culture consultant in New York; but since his return with partner Dani to Sydney in 2018 we've seen Guru Adrian rise phoenix-like from the ashes, heralded by a new T-shirt announcing his "Returnity" (a nod to Arthur Stace's Eternity proto-meme [RR#1: 23].

The timing is good. Says David:

“All those years I was in New York, people kept asking if they could buy Guru Adrian merch. I knocked back hundreds of sales because I was busy making art and running a business. But now feels right. The world needs Guru Adrian.”

To that end, a full range of Guru Adrian merchandise will soon be available at

For stories with a similar vibe, see: Flying Spaghetti Monster [RR#2: 25] and Reg Mombassa on Art and Artists [RR#2: 61]



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