The late Chris Bracey (pictured) is the British godfather of neon art.
You only have to spend a few minutes in London’s Soho to soak up its distinguishable neon landscape of fairground colours and exotic typography… you’ve got Chris to thank for that.
Since the 1970s, as well as transforming the streets of Soho, Chris has been creating bold neon bulb artworks for the world’s best designers, hollywood films, shops and galleries. A passionate recycler, Chris re-fashioned pieces from salvaged iconic signs, spent window displays and discarded neon.
You will have seen Chris’ work on screen many times, such as the HOTEL neon from The Dark Knight and the STARK sign from Captain America (pictured above).
He has sold work to the likes of Elton John, worked with Vogue and Selfridges… and now, Inkluded has been lucky enough to take a glimpse into the colourful world of the Bracey family.
I was given the opportunity to chat to the artist who is continuing Chris’ great legacy, Marcus Bracey – neon light artist, lighting technician, creative director of God’s Own Junkyard, and Chris’ son.
God’s Own Junkyard is the largest stock of vintage neons and signs in Europe, and lays claim to being the “oldest sign-makers in London”. A Walthamstow “wonderland of creativity”, it’s a semi-public space which accommodates Chris’ work – he described it as ‘what the inside of my brain looks like’.
“Since my Dad launched the business, it’s has grown and evolved,” says Marcus. “It opened so many channels of work for us, through use of neon in films, window displays and advertising campaigns. Here at God’s Own Junkyard, neon is also made accessible for people to buy (and even create their own personal pieces). Neon can transform a wall or room into something unique and special.”
The last 6 months have been difficult for Marcus. “Loosing my dad to cancer so early in his life… we have all had to adjust and carry on, not having him around. I have worked with my dad every day for the last 25 years so things are different. He taught me everything I know.”
I ask Marcus if there is one piece in particular that holds value to him personally. “Yes, one piece my dad made for me on my 40th Birthday – Luxury Addiction neon, bulbs, a crown with jewels mounted to it. It hangs proud and shows everything that we work with in our environment, every day.”
“I also have the original rainbow tuxedos sign from Stanly Kubricks Eyes Wide Shut. I remember the night me and my dad did a lighting test at Pinewod Studio just before the film started being filmed. Stanley ordered a late night curry and we all sat down on the floor and ate together.”
It would seem that neon was pumped through Marcus’ blood from a very young age. “My dad was passionate about neon and art, always drawing, painting and coming up with ideas. He taught me everthing I know about the sign industry and manufacturing, all the way up to design. I owe all of this to a great dad, Chris Bracey, what a force to be bought up with!”
“We are continuing to do what we do best… designing and manufacturing things bright. Also forever changing the way we can use neon, light and materials. Going forward I am going to continue to make the art that he never had a chance to finish, and share these great pieces with Chris Bracey’s fans and the world.”
Find our more on the God’s Own Junkyard website.
Photos: God’s Own Junkyard Website and Delilah PR