Entertainment & Arts

Chris Bracey, neon sign designer and collector, dies at 59

Chris Bracey at his Gods Own Junkyard warehouse Image copyright Presser

Chris Bracey, the British artist and designer who owned one of the largest collections of neon signs and sculpture outside the US, has died aged 59.

Bracey, who ran the Gods Own Junkyard warehouse in Walthamstow in north east London, had recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer.

"Just wanna let you know I am actually in Gods Own Junk Yard," read a message on his Twitter account on Tuesday.

Bracey's wife and co-worker Linda said she had lost "a wonderful husband".

"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," she said in a statement.

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Media captionChris Bracey: "A Walthamstow geezer who makes neon"

Bracey, who died on Saturday, started his career as a graphic designer in the early 1970s before joining his father Dick in the family neon business.

Spotting an opportunity in the West End's burgeoning sex industry, he helped shape the Soho we know today with his provocative and alluring signage.

"I did 99 percent of every sex establishment in Soho for 20 years," he told the BBC last year. "For me, it was an artistic endeavour."

Commissioned to create signs for Neil Jordan's 1986 film Mona Lisa, he went on to work on Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut, four Batman films and many other features.

'Superbly talented'

Bracey kept the backdrops from those films at Gods Own Junkyard in Walthamstow, where he also housed discarded shop signs, religious statues and many other items.

The "Neon Man" was well-known in fashion and retail circles, creating catwalk and in-store displays for some of the UK's biggest labels and department stores.

Bracey also enjoyed recognition as an artist in his own right and staged a solo exhibition, I've Looked Up to Heaven and Been Down to Hell, in London last year.

Linda Bracey said Gods Own Junkyard would continue "as Chris planned and wanted" and that he had "passed the neon baton" onto their sons, Marcus, Matthew and Max.

Broadcaster Kirstie Allsop was among those to mark his passing, remembering him as "lovely & superbly talented".

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