It is not often that people call it a lucky coincidence when their car needs to go in for repairs. I do! This is because my car repair shop is situated right next to the most magical place, and if I hadn't dropped off my ride and walked by this place on the way home, I might have never discovered Gods Own Junkyard.
I noticed some neon signs in the window of what looked like a storehouse, and when I walked past I caught a glimpse of a statue through a metal fence. I looked closer, and saw the Mother Mary. Like an epiphany, she had led me to a dream location. Are you aware of the neon graveyard in Las Vegas? I sure am, and have been dreaming of going there for the longest time. But guess what?! There is a neon graveyard a 20-minute walk for my home! Or, not so much a graveyard but a
reprocessing resurrection plant. And this was it! Sadly, I had other engagements on the day, but did a little research later, located the junk master's Twitter account and asked him if he would allow me to visit with my camera soon.
Gods Own Junkyard is run by artist Chris Bracey. The passion for bright lights goes back to his father, who had been running a sign-making business in the same location since the early 1950s. The original shop still exists, but Chris is taking his family legacy to quite another level, and is quite famous for it. He has designed pieces for many movies, photo shoots and exhibitions (including his own), referencing pop culture and human nature.
Piled high in his heavenly scrapyard are old signs, movie props, display boards, kitschy statues, discarded shop fascias. And in the midst of this a little shed, which has been converted into a shrine to the gods of light. And the gods are kind to the motley collection of rejects, because a lot of this junk will one day come back to a glorious new life in the arts.
Walk with me:
When I finished wandering around the yard, I made my way back to the work shed and felt like I was entering the inner sanctuary of the neon gods. Everywhere you look in this tiny space there are light and colours, tinted bulbs and tubes, luminescent statues and wall hangings. The whole display evoked the sensation of being out on the town, walking along the Las Vegas Strip, down Broadway, or through the West End. Neon just makes everything bright and glamorous, and for me it acts like the flame for the moth. I could look at it for hours, which I nearly did.
Behold the beauty:
You can visit Chris' current exhibition at Scream gallery. It runs until the beginning of June. But if you are in London on a Friday or Saturday, I implore you to make your way up East for a stroll through the junkyard and to see where his striking artwork originates.