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.”
Know Before You Go
Only open to the public on weekends (check website for exact hours), but you can make an afternoon or an evening of it: There is a cafe serving snacks, coffee, and adult beverages. Purchases can be made by cash or card, although there is a minimum charge of £5 if paying by card. The industrial estate is also home to a couple of other establishments serving cocktails, craft beers, and food. The location is about a 12-minute walk from Walthamstow Central station on the London Victoria and Overground lines. Detailed walking directions can be found here: http://www.godsownjunkyard.co.uk/directions.html
Because the gallery is situated amongst a number of other businesses, parking is an issue. Would highly recommend parking on a side street close by and walking up to the establishment. The installation is free to enter, though donations are highly encouraged. There is also a gift shop that sells various images in both post card and card format.