The Neon Man: Chris Bracey.
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Playground to the hipsters and hedonists of the Big Smoke, night-time in Soho has long been a place full of bright colours to attract colourful people. After working with the likes of Tim Burton, Christopher Nolan and Stanley Kubrick on film under (and creating) the bright lights of Hollywood and collaborating with Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen and Selfridges on fashion, the man who lit up London finally returns to his roots. Today Chris Bracey opens ‘God’s Own Junkyard’ at Circus of Soho, an exhibition and pop-up shop presenting works of art, past and present from Chris’ vast light-up collection. i-D headed down to Soho to check out the circus signs, neon nightlife and chat to the artist himself.
Your pop up store is back in Soho, why/ how do you think your work suits the area? My pop-up shop is in Soho because that’s where I started making neon signs when I serviced the sex industry in the 1970s. I think Soho is the most creative area in London, which means it’s the most creative area in the cosmos!
Is there a particular era of culture that inspires your work? My work is inspired by 1950s Hollywood, full of glamour and bright lights.
After collaborations with fashion designers, McQueen, Burberry, Westwood, which work has been the most fun to create? Mulberry was the most fun to create, working with Emma Hill, I made neon ice creams lips and lollies for the catwalk show Summer 2012 at Claridges and also the Vogue Shoot with Emma Summerton in 2011.
If you could exhibit a piece of work anywhere in the world where would it be? I would love to exhibit at the Gagosian Gallery in New York.
How long does it take to make a piece of art using neon lighting? The time it takes depends on how complicated the piece is. A piece like God Save the Queen took me a month to make!
Many celebrities collect your work, if you could purchase a piece of art to exhibit in your own home, what would it be? I would love a Peter Blake original. He originally inspired my work but I could never afford the price tag.
What is currently in God’s Own Junkyard? God’s Own Junk Yard is full of neon artworks and old neons from Batman, Eyes Wide Shut and stuff from the Vogue Shoots and vintage sex signs.
What can we expect from the set of Dom Hemmingway? Dom Hemingway is top secret but the movie will be a smash hit when it comes out.
Which piece within the current collection took the longest to create and why? The pieces which took the longest to create are Saint & Sin which I hand painted and made the neon to the shapes on the painting, it is an artwork depicting Heaven and Hell, except in this piece Hell is better than Heaven. The Queen of Diamonds took a long time as it has approximately 500 small twinkly lights and 500 rhinestones.
Chris Bracey: Circus of Soho at 27 Beak Street, Soho, runs until 15th January 2013.