Monday, 23 September 2013

God's Own Junkyard

I love neon with all its slightly suspect glamour. I grew up seeing illuminations as part of the landscape of everyday life, but neon is something else. It conjures up endless pictures from films and TV, stories of seedy motels and pulsating discos.

Chris Bracey is the man behind God's Own Junkyard in London's Walthamstow. He creates neon work that's been used in films and for art - he made a huge flash for the Bowie exhibition at the V&A for example (you can read more about his work in this article). God's Own Junkyard is part display for Bracey's work, a shed crammed full of neon artworks that promise everything from thrills to love to joy.

It's also in a large part a salvage yard - old bits of lighting and curios rescued so that they can be reworked into new pieces.

In this yard, Jesus sits alongside Agent Provocateur champagne bottle props, mock alligators and signs for chicken shops. It's a mind-boggling collection of stuff - a much smaller, very British version of the Neon Graveyard in Las Vegas. Some of the material collected reminded me of the fairground art shown as part of the 2011 incarnation of the Museum of Everything (I discovered afterwards that Bracey's father was a fairground sign maker).

Property development means Bracey is being forced to leave these premises. In fact, yesterday saw the last opening of the yard (though the inside display area is open to visitors until November), and it was crammed full of visitors either marvelling for the first time - as we were - or paying their last respects.

Apparently the yard has been offered new premises elsewhere in Walthamstow. Sometimes I find it surprising when delightful oddities like this can still found in little pockets of London - it's as if I've already expected them to have been beaten out of the way by the big bad boys. I'm glad that in this case that although this immediate battle may have been lost, the fight appears to be far from over.

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