cb1Sad news. The one and only Chris Bracey has passed away aged 59. Bracey’s career started in the 70’s when he started producing neon for his father’s company. Dismayed by the seasonality of creating signs for funfairs he had the bright idea of making money from sex instead. Not by selling it, but by creating signs for the people who did. He approached some of the Soho nightclub owners and persuaded them to let him name and create neon for their clubs, thus transforming the streets of Soho, its strip joints and nightclubs into dazzling tecnicolour. Seeing an exhibition by Bruce Nauman further opened his eyes to possibilities of being creative with neon.

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He has worked closely with some of cinema’s finest talents including Stanley Kubrick, Christopher Nolan and Tim Burton, transforming a set into their vision. Kubrick commissioned Bracey to redo a London Street and studio into Greenwich Village in New York, while he created pieces for recent movie, World War Z that transformed Glasgow into 50’s America. He created props for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Dark Shadows, Casino Royale and many more besides. Last but not least, Bracey owned God’s Own Junkyard, a warehouse in London’s Walthamstow, which houses one of the biggest collections of neon signs and sculptures outside the USA.

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I had the pleasure of interviewing Chris Bracey in 2013 and despite being extremely busy and very worried about the future of God’s Own Junkyard, he was funny, warm and full of anecdotes. A real mensch and a true London character.

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In April 2013, he had sell-out solo show at Scream gallery entitled ‘I’ve looked up to heaven and I’ve been down to hell‘. After his death, he sent one last tweet which ran true to his inimitable style: “Hi Chris ere, just wanna let you know I am actually in Gods Own Junk Yard and let me tell you its bleedin amazing up ere. xx”

Words by Anna Bang

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