From a hip thrusting Elvis to an illuminated Jesus, movie props to striking text works, ‘Neon Man’ Chris Bracey’s neon wonderland God’s Own Junkyard has become the stuff of London cultural legend, a relatively hidden treasure trove tucked away in a Walthamstow studio.
In his latest commission, Bracey created a series of new works to celebrate the Vauxhall Mokka, choosing three words to describe the Mokka and integrating them into key British pop culture phrases from A.A Milne, The Clash and Shirley Bassey.
We catch up with Bracey for a quick fire tour of his city.
What is your favourite area of London?
‘Walthamstow Village takes some beating; good people, good boozers and the William Morris gallery.’
What is your most vivid London memory?
‘The Winston Churchill funeral. The whole family went and waited for hours. My dad had a home movie camera and he filmed it.’
What would your perfect London day out involve?
‘Taking my grandkids to Kensington Gardens on a Sunday afternoon and playing on the Viking ship with them – Captain Hook and Peter Pan!’
What would you perfect London night out involve?
‘Dinner at the Chelsea Arts Club with fellow artists and a good drink in the bar and a knees up.’
Where in London have you never been, but have always wanted to go?
‘MI5 and MI6 would be a great adventure – I’ve always wanted to see in there.’
What do you think is London’s best-kept secret?
‘The Inns of Court by Temple Station, the Old Knight Templar Church and the red and white rose bushes, where the War of the Roses started – all within the Inns of Court area.’
Which song, book or film do you think best encapsulates London?
‘London Calling by the Clash or Waterloo Sunset by the Kinks – says it all.’
What do you miss most about London when you’re away?
‘I miss fish and chips and the relentless drive that pushes London further and better than any other city in the world. There’s no place like London.’
Where do you go in London to relax?
‘I like the River Lee. I go down there and walk for miles, it’s a great place with pubs along the way.’
What would you recommend everyone in London do at least once?
‘Go to the top of Big Ben. I did some metal signs for the top of clock tower and it’s amazing up there. If you are healthy and don’t suffer from vertigo, it’s worth the climb.’
Where in London do you feel most creative?
‘Soho still does it for me. There is always lots going on in that area.’
What projects do you have in the pipeline?
‘I’m working on my first art show for New York in October – a big Christmas idea for Selfridges and projects I can’t discuss as I’m sworn to secrecy.’
See Bracey’s ‘Cool Britannia Collection’ along with hundreds of other artworks in God’s Own Junkyard, E17 9HQ. Open every Friday – Sunday, 11am-5pm.
The ‘Cool Britannia’ works will be auctioned in aid of Kids Company as part of The Spring Clean Auction.