Neon artist Chris Bracey forced to close his Walthamstow wonderland in three weeks
Chris Bracey announces the forced site closure of his neon storehouse. For the last four decades, Gods Own Junkyard has produced iconic pieces for fashion and film, created on the Walthamstow site and stored there for public view afterwards.
land has been sold to property developers and Bracey was served a notice period of five weeks to vacate on 21 September. Following a number of months of trying to purchase the land, the landlord instead decided to sell the site to property developers.
The neon junkyard will join other local iconic landmarks such as the Walthamstow Greyhound Stadium that have been forced to close to make way for housing developments. On Saturday, over 300 people turned up at the junkyard, open to the public on weekends, to sign a petition.
Gods Own Junkyard has been trading for over 60 years and has employed three generations of Chris’ family. Bracey’s father started making neon for circuses and fairgrounds in the 50s. By the mid 70s, Chris was himself busy re-signing the majority of Soho’s infamous establishments, reinventing the visual landscape with signs for strip joints and now infamous clubs such as the Raymond Revue. A chance meeting with the artistic director of Mona Lisa, during this time led to a career making iconic pieces for fashion and film, most of which will be stored on site for the next three weeks only.
Bracey employs 18 full-time members of staff, two of which are his sons who also produce neon. Created by hand, all pieces encompass new, original illuminated sculptures, salvaged signs, vintage signage, old movie props and retrospective display pieces. Alongside his prestigious art pieces, Chris also creates unique pieces from discarded objects. Among the pieces on display are items from Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut, the HOTEL sign from Christopher Nolan’s first Batman movie and the STARK sign from Iron Man.
Bracey, who had a sell-out exhibition earlier this year at Scream gallery says, ‘I’ve lived here in Walthamstow all my life, we’re a family business who have been trading for 60s years. I’m really cut up about it. I’ve worked here with my father and sons. I love the area so it just feels so wrong.’
After many years of producing pieces for Selfridges, including a collaboration with David LaChapelle’s Vegas Supernova, the London store have offered Bracey a temporary pop up shop which will sell some of his pieces from Friday 6th September for six weeks. As for a home for the thousands of other valuable pieces, Gods Own Junkyard are looking into options to remain in the area but are not feeling optimistic that this will be possible. Bracey adds, ‘Developers are taking out thriving businesses and destroying successful places of work with tiny flats and calling it regeneration.’