For years, Walthamstow was known as an unremarkable district of gray streets and drab flats on the northeast fringe of London. More recently, the city’s gentrification has brought an influx of young creatives and curious hipsters into the neighborhood. These two faces of Walthamstow come together in the purple haze of God’s Own Junkyard.
God’s Own Junkyard is a kaleidoscopic warehouse-maze of handmade neon signs that blazes forth in an old industrial estate like a Vegas mirage. Curated by third-generation neon artisan Marcus Bracey, GOJY serves many functions: free art gallery and Instagram bonanza for the public; dealer and recycler of signage for businesses; prop shop for film and photo shoots; and lucrative customer for the local electric utility.
The collection includes thousands of signs, props, and figures, all displayed within a single warehouse space. Cheerful emblems for diners and hotels wink from wall to wall. Every form of disreputable fun is represented in bright light, stacked from the floor and hung from the ceiling: cocktails, karaoke, rock ‘n’ roll, pinball, disco, casinos. Neon-trimmed religious images share space with lurid displays designed for, or inspired by, the retro carnal vice dens of old Soho.
As Bracey told The Independent newspaper while describing his creative process, “you stand back and look at it, and that’s what really gives you the kick.”