Eddie Lock

Eddie Lock

Chris Bracey

Chris Bracey

If you don’t know the name Chris Bracey, chances are one of his neon dreams has lit up your life at some point. He created the glowing letters for Martin Creed’s 2000 Tate Britain show, has done window displays for Stella McCartney and Vivienne Westwood, made the massive neon lightning bolt for the V&A’s David Bowie exhibition, and has worked on countless movies, from Tim Burton’s Batman to Blade Runner via Eyes Wide Shut.

After learning how to make fairground signs from his dad, Bracey went on to design all the signs screaming 'GIRLS! GIRLS! GIRLS!'  for the sex shops and brothels of Soho in the 1970s. 'I just thought to myself ‘How am I going to make money? I know... sex.’ So I went to Soho, not to have sex, but to make the word sex in neon.'

His pieces now sell for up to £30,000 and are collected by everyone from Matt Smith to Mossy to Mark Zuckerberg – but it wasn’t until he saw American light artist Bruce Nauman’s exhibition at The Hayward Gallery that Bracey realised neon could even be considered art.

Chris Bracey has worked out of a factory in Walthamstow for the last 40 years. It’s now filled with thousands of neon signs and goes by the name ‘God’s Own Junkyard’. But a shadow’s been cast on this site of luminary legend: he has just been forced to move out to make way for developers.