Chris Bracey’s passing in the late part of 2014 saw the loss of an unsung hero of London. He sadly lost his battle with prostate cancer at the age of 59. He was an artist and designer who owned and created one of the largest collections of neon signs and sculpture. Starting out in graphic design, he later joined his father Dick in the neon business.
The 1980’s saw the glamorous rise of the sex industry in the West End of London and with it came a very bright designer. Chris Bracey ceased an opportunity and latched onto the need for advertising there. His skills in lighting design rapidly developed along side the boom of the sex industry. He was a sought after individual, with his artist work on show in nearly all of the sex establishments in the Soho area for two decades.
His work wasn’t just famous in the underworld of Soho, he was also commissioned numerous times to work in film, retail and fashion. Creating signs for Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut, Bladerunner and Batman films as well as creating catwalk and in store displays for some of the UK’s biggest brands and stores. The majority of his work was stored in ‘Gods Own Junk Yard’ in Walthamstow in the north east of London.
After his passing, an exhibition of work from his 40-year career was put on in the part of London he was made famous. A group of us went down to talk a look. It wasn’t until we arrived at the ‘Lights of Soho’ in Brewer Street, that you could really appreciate the artistic craft involved in his career. The exhibition space was full of some of his most famous pieces, large or small, static or animated. It fascinating to see how he conveyed a message through light, using just key words in appropriate colours to sell a product.
Accompanying this blog post is a video Rosie and I put together, that captures the energy and spirit of his career. Documenting a variety of pieces we saw at the exhibition.
Philip Hawkins | Designer