God’s Own Junkyard: One of London’s Hidden Gems

May 9, 2018 10:30:00 AM / by Irene Kanthan

Kelly Allen_London

Kelly is an official CAPA blogger for spring 2018, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A Journalism major at University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, she is studying abroad in London this semester.

In this week's post, Kelly discovers God's Own Junkyard and takes a look inside this neon sign heaven.

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About a 15-minute walk off of the Victoria line’s Walthamstow Central Tube Station, a wonderland filled with neon sign exists. Unless you're looking for it, you won’t find it. A sign leading to it fittingly reads: “Heavenly junk in a hell of a location.” And it’s true. It’s an incredible treasure of a spot in a completely random location.

CAPAStudyAbroad_London_Spring2018_From Kelly Allen - Outside God's Own Junkyard

God’s Own Junkyard is like a gallery. It’s where old neon signs are given new life. The man behind the magic is Chris Bracey, the “Neon Man.” For 37 years, he’s been creating neon art pieces for photographers and artists including David LaChappelle and Martin Creed. He has made, installed and collected signs that have appeared behind the likes of Tom Cruise in “Eyes Wide Shut” and Johnny Depp in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” When a film is finished and neon signs are discarded like yesterday’s leftovers, the Neon Man collects them and never lets them die.

CAPAStudyAbroad_London_Spring2018_From Kelly Allen - Inside God's Own Junkyard

Aside from on-screen neon creations, he salvages old signs and architectural advertising that have already hit the trash and remain unwanted. He repairs and resurrects the lights pairing them with old film props, eccentric art, fairground and circus lighting, and retro displays to create a world of its own.

CAPAStudyAbroad_London_Spring2018_From Kelly Allen - A Neon Sign in God's Own Junkyard

From not-so-surprising signs that say "God save the Queen" to signs that read "It's always your favorite sins that do you in" (a personal favorite), the Neon Man hit the jackpot with the neon signs that make up the collection he's built. There are neon lips, ice cream cones, swans, arrows, signs that say "honey," "ooh la la," and "lucky," you name it. With an added touch of disco balls, a giant black heel, and other seemingly random objects, the entire space is one big work of art.

CAPAStudyAbroad_London_Spring2018_From Kelly Allen - God Save the Queen Neon Sign in God's Own Junkyard

Inside the gallery, The Rolling Scones Cafe offers food and drinks to keep your stomach satisfied while your eyes take in the lights all around. There are even a couple souvenirs to purchase on the way out including postcards of signs in the gallery.

CAPAStudyAbroad_London_Spring2018_From Kelly Allen - Hanging Out in God's Own Junkyard

It’s only open on the weekends, and it’s totally free to enter. And if you leave wanting more, you can always hire a neon sign from the junkyard for a week or two. It's definitely worth making the trek (or sitting on the Tube) to Zone 3 for.

CAPAStudyAbroad_London_Spring2018_From Kelly Allen - With My Friends in God's Own Junkyard

My friends and I discovered this hidden gem through Instagram. Following London accounts and bloggers has definitely helped me discover an array of wonders in London. Some of my favorite accounts include: @londoncoffeeshops, @prettylittlelondon, @immovingtolondon, @sophiemilner_fs, and @visitlondon. But there are so many more!

Thanks Kelly!

Kelly's journey continues every Wednesday so stay tuned.

Learn More about the CAPA London Program

Topics: London, England, Art Abroad, Activities Abroad