You might not recognise the face of London-born light artist Mr Chris Bracey, 59, but chances are you will have seen at least one of his neon creations at some point over the last 35 years, whether on the street, the silver screen or adorning the walls of a stylish London gallery or restaurant. A humble aficionado of this now very popular art form (he counts Ms Tracey Emin and Mr Martin Creed as friends in the field), his distinctive pieces of work have been bought by everyone from Mr Jude Law to Lady Gaga. MR PORTER caught up with him in north London to see the invaluable items on show in his unique "junkyard", ask him about his time in the Soho sex industry in the late 1970s, and find out what it was like to be at Mr Stanley Kubrick's beck and call.
How long have you been in your current workspace?
I have been here for almost 30 years and was born just up the road in Walthamstow Village.
I also have a workshop over the road where I make all of the pieces; this is a sort of makeshift
showroom for them, I guess. It isn't really a showroom, though, is it? But then I am the anti-hero;
I am the opposite to all those sorts of brands.
How did this preoccupation with neon all start?
My dad was a coal miner in Wales. He lived in the dark and in the end decided to do something else,
so he came to London to work with light, producing fairground and circus signs.
So I have lived around neon all my life. At first I didn't want to work with my dad.
I went to art college but this was in the late 1960s - it was all hippy weddings and LSD -
and that was just the lecturers. I became disillusioned because I thought they were going to teach me
how to split the atom of art. The reality was that they weren't any more qualified than I was.
So, I left. I didn't really have a trade, so I ended up working with my dad just to learn one,
travelling all around the country at fairgrounds. It was hard to make money though.
So I thought, how can I make money? I thought: sex. I can make money out of sex.
So I went to Soho, not to have sex but to make neon sex, and I started doing signs for all the sex establishments.