News - Gods Own Junkyard

History bathed in neon: Leadenhall Market in London announces a Gods Own Junkyard takeover with the Electric City exhibition from late May until the end of July...

Press Release

With its stunning interiors, shimmering glass, wrought iron structures and airy cobbled walkways, the City of London's iconic Leadenhall Market featured as a film location for wizard-world shopping street Diagon Alley in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, as well as many other movies including Tomb Raider, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and more.

From Wednesday 26th May until the end of July, lights, neon and a great deal of action will come in to play at this Victorian covered market. As part of an exciting programme of events and activities to inject a blaze of colour and joy back into the capital, Leadenhall Market will collaborate with Gods Own Junkyard on an immersive technicolour production involving multiple units and installations. While Gods Own Junkyard's Walthamstow paradise and Rolling Scones Café will continue to host their entire archive of neon and vintage signs, Electric City will allow them to bring out some of the key pieces to chart their own place within movie history.

While their legacy was established by Dick Bracey in 1953, producing neon for cinemas, casinos, nightclubs and fairgrounds, their journey in film started with Bladerunner. Later while up a ladder installing a piece of neon in Soho, Gods Own Junkyard's founder, the late neon artist Chris Bracey had a chance encounter with the art director of Mona Lisa who wanted to film scenes in a sleazy strip club. This led to many more commissions and four decades of producing neon, sets and signs for films, many of which they still have today. Since Chris Bracey passed away in 2014, Gods Own Junkyard has been in the care of his wife Linda and sons Mathew and Marcus, all neon makers and designers. They are delighted that the Leadenhall project has given them an opportunity to spotlight some of these iconic signs, a way of reflecting on their own history, in addition to their much-discussed Soho nostalgia.

"We have talked about a great deal about Soho and all the work we did there, from the 1950s onwards", explains Linda. "Many of our movie pieces are at Gods Own Junkyard in Walthamstow but visitors wouldn't necessarily know what they are because they are among the rest of our archive. We've spent around 40 years working on film sets, there are many items and anecdotes that haven't seen the light of day that people might like to see and hear about."

Linda goes on to explain that one of the films highlighted will be Eyes Wide Shut, via an atmospheric installation featuring signs and neons from the film which are key to the film's themes. "It was a dream-come-true for Chris to be involved in this project, " enthuses Linda. "He was such a fan of Kubrick's work and was blown away by 2001. He came out bemused and said 'What on earth is he trying to say?" When the call came for Chris to transform Pinewood Studios to Greenwich Village in New York and follow the main character through night-time walks, strange lights and exotic signs, it was the highlight of his career.

Parts of Greenwich Village were recreated sign-by-sign by Gods Own Junkyard at Pinewood Studios. Linda also explained that Kubrick didn't want to bring in any additional lighting apart from what appears on-set. The atmosphere was achieved by thousands of multi-coloured Christmas lights, which the Bracey's will reference in their own Leadenhall Kubrick vignette alongside the Rainbow sign of the fancy dress shop and Sonata Jazz. Chris and son Marcus (who also appears in the film) remained on-set throughout and even shared Indian takeaways on the floor with Kubrick, during evening filming breaks. 

Additional installations will feature the signs and neon items from cult dystopian movie Judge Dredd where all of the Earth's population have crowded into the cities across the planet, now known as Mega-Cities. "As the exhibition will take place in our much less-inhabited capital since covid, we thought it would be interesting to look at the work we've done in helping to create cities in film, while also referencing one of our deeply-missed leisure activities, the cinema", explains Linda.

Other film pieces from Batman, Tomb Raider, Charlie and The Chocolate Factory and The Dark Knight will also feature.

While the movie signs are not for sale, a walk-in installation and information hub, with selected pieces available to buy online, will be open to the public on Wednesday to Saturday, with all purchases via a Shopify site and QR codes for in-person and virtual buyers. Further exciting events and activations will also be announced in June and July, once restrictions are fully relaxed from 21st June.

"We certainly believe it will be an interesting project and nothing like we've ever done before," beams Linda. "When you're commissioned for a film, you have a working title, you don't know much about it, you have to sign an NDA, so it's impossible to gauge how important it might become. In curating the project, the question certainly begged, 'why didn't we buy back more?"

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Images - Gods Own Junkyard/Leadenhall Market

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