XMAS CAMPAIGN: GOD’S OWN JUNKYARDDecember 18, 2013
When thinking about where to shoot our 2013 Christmas campaign, we didn’t mess around. Winter Wonderland? Pfft, played out. Animals in the snow? Twee as hell. Our attention immediately turned to God’s Own Junkyard – where better to celebrate JC’s birth than at Chris Bracey’s iconoclastic playground?
With over 40 years in the business, Bracey’s neon works have been found everywhere from the window displays of Vivienne Westwood to Kubrick’s Blade Runner. Just before he was forced to move from his famous Walthamstow base to Grayson Perry’s studio, we took a tour with the legend himself…
‘I started out in the sex industry, peddling my arse around Soho making signs for sex shops. I could never spell, so the word ‘beautiful’ is spelt ‘butiful’ on one sign. Soho was a weird kind of place back then, you’d have people rolling up in Rolls Royce motors among all of this. In a way I suppose I look back on it with rose tinted specs.’
‘My calling card in the ‘80s was an old leather suitcase. It would light up like the Ark of the Covenant when you opened it – all flashing bulbs. After opening that, it took me about an hour to capture his trust. He could smell bullshit a mile off. I ended up working with him on Blade Runner, where I made shitloads of neon signs. I was walking around the set with him one day and asked to get my name in the credits. In response, he asked for a street of signs which was worth around £50k, so I decided. I needed the money.’
‘When I was working on Superman, there was a scene where a baby would take off in a spaceship from Krypton. I had a picture of my boy Max, who was nine months old at the time, having a bath in the kitchen sink. The set director Peter Young, asked us to bring him up for a screen test. Next thing, he’s in the film and everyone on the set’s calling him ‘Superbaby’. ‘
‘When I drive past an old diner, motel or theatre in Midwest America, that’s heaven. It’s how this collection of signs started it out and now it’s a giant, neon, living organism.’