Pin It
Chris Bracey Gods Own Junkyard
Chris Bracey of Gods Own JunkyardGods Own Junkyard

Gods Own Junkyard owner Chris Bracey passes away

The neon designer created Soho's iconic sleaze signs and worked with David LaChapelle, Stanley Kubrick and Martin Creed

Gods Own Junkyard owner and lighting designer Chris Bracey has passed away at the age of 59. The "Neon Man" started out designing the neon lights of Soho sex shops, worked on films like Eyes Wide Shut and Batman, and collaborated with artists such as David LaChappelle and Martin Creed. He had recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer.  

Linda Bracey, his wife and co-worker confirmed his death this afternoon. "I’ve lost a wonderful husband, father and grandfather," she said in a statement. "He passed away peacefully in his sleep after a painful battle but was ready for his next journey. We married aged 16 and I am grateful for a long and loving marriage to a warm, talented, kind and funny man who has left the world a more colourful and vibrant place. Gods Own Junkyard will continue in Walthamstow as Chris planned and wanted. Chris is ‘a light that will never go out’, but has passed the neon baton onto our sons."

Bracey founded Gods Own Junkyard in Walthamstow, London, which houses his life's work and constitutes the biggest collection of neon lighting and signage in Europe. The alluring warehouse crammed with neon is as much a gateway into the future as it is a step into the past. In the past, it has served as the backdrop to editorial shoots for Vogue and brands such as Urban Outfitters. 

The neon artist started life as a graphic designer in the early 70s. Midway through the decade, Bracey began to reinvent Soho's hedonistic alleyways with his sci-fi signage, creating its iconic seediness and sleaze. The neighbourhood served as a visual calling card for his move into film. While making signs for the Pink Pussycat Club, Bracey was commissioned to create signs for the iconic British film Mona Lisa, starring Michael Caine. From there, Bracey worked on four Batman films, providing the signage for the streets of Gotham. He was also tapped to collaborate with Stanley Kubrick on Eyes Wide Shut.

The fashion world embraced Bracey too, commissioning him to create in-store displays for Vivienne Westwood, Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen. In 2005, he worked with David LaChapelle on the photographer's eye-blisteringly kitsch "Vegas Supernova" window displays for Selfridges.

Bracey leaves behind a collection of work that represents a man who dedicated himself to an art form that inspired culture and quite literally lit up the world. He is survived by his wife and two sons. If you ever get a chance to lose an afternoon in Gods Own Junkyard, do it – his assistant "Gothic" John possesses an encyclopaedic knowledge of every piece of Bracey-made neon.