God’s Own Junkyard is a godsend to the residents of Walthamstow. Whenever you’re feeling too lazy to travel beyond E17, this rainbow grotto of neon signs can be used to coax friends over to your borough. Sat in an industrial estate next to Pillars Brewery, God’s Own is a mix of shop, café and neon museum. The space is run by the Bracey family, who could easily charge visitors to enter, but instead they allow people to wander in freely, snapping photographs that make them look like they’ve just stepped into a poster for a Nicolas Winding Refn film.
Unfortunately the sheer volume of neon on show means people tend to wander out without ever learning the history behind some of those signs. A new exhibition at Leadenhall Market is hoping to change that. For ‘Electric City’, God’s Own Junkyard will cover the market in cinematic neon for an exhibit that showcases its 40-year influence on the film industry.
God’s Own began as ‘Electro Signs’, founded by Welsh miner Richard Bracey in 1952, but was taken over by his son, the late Chris Bracey, a neon artist who went on to produce glowing set-pieces for ‘Mona Lisa’, ‘Blade Runner’ and ‘The Dark Knight’. Pieces from all these films can be seen at ‘Electric City’, but the exhibit will have a strong focus on Bracey’s contribution to Stanley Kubrick’s ‘Eyes Wide Shut’, which saw the artist recreate parts of Greenwich Village inside Pinewood Studios for Kubrick’s neon-heavy street scenes.
God’s Own Junkyard is now run by Chris’s sons, Marcus and Matthew, as well as his wife, Linda, who says: ‘We’ve spent around 40 years working on film sets, there are many items and anecdotes that haven’t seen the light of day… we thought it would be interesting to look at the work we’ve done in helping to create cities in film.’ As part of ‘Electric City’ the Braceys will create a kind of Kubrick Vignette inside Leadenhall Market, in an installation that features signs and neon from the original set of ‘Eyes Wide Shut’.
As the God’s Own archive is so huge, it will remain open in Walthamstow during the Leadenhall exhibition’s run, minus a few movie-related signs. Unlike the ’stow location, the exhibits at ‘Electric City’ will not be for sale, but unless you’re hoping to bankrupt yourself for an XXX Videos sign that might have shared a shot with Tom Cruise, it’s probably for the best.
‘Electric City’ will run at Leadenhall Market from May 26 until mid-July. Find out more here.
Don’t want to wait? Here are some art exhibits you can visit in person right now.
Not into art? Go and book a beer garden then.