And there was light

And there was light

Neon has illuminated Times Square and the Moulin Rouge, sold sex and slot machines, hot dogs and gods, hopes and dreams, even advertised vacancies at the Bates Motel. But its aura is fading. Piccadilly Circus lost its last neon sign in 2011: LED is the new king.

Neon has a saviour, however, and he wears an electric-white halo. In his East London workshop/junkyard (pictured), Chris Bracey conjures fantastic creations from glass and gas. He began in the 1970s with signs for Soho strip clubs (‘I was the first to use “Girls, girls, girls”,’ he says. ‘Up to then it was just “Girls”‘), then worked on the film Mona Lisa.

He’s collaborated with Stanley Kubrick and David LaChapelle, and recently made an Art Deco installation for Chloe’s show at the Palais de Tokyo. ‘I call neon the dark art of light because it’s often made at night. It’s only when you put 10,000 volts through that it comes to life. It reminds me of being a boy and your dad turning on the Christmas-tree lights; I still get that incredible feeling of joy when they’re on.’

God’s Own Junk Yard pop-up is at 47 Beak Street, London W1, until the end of January ( )

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