“One might not think of light as a matter of fact, but I do. And it is, as I said, as plain and open and direct an art as you will ever find.” Dan Flavin – American minimalist artist famous for creating sculptural objects and installations from commercially available fluorescent light fixtures.
I’ve always had a thing for lighting, in particular neon… In my first year at art college I went on a trip to Blackpool to see the lights in November. I was totally blown away by the gaudiness, the colours, the assault on the senses. I was in neon heaven! Neon has come in and out of fashion, and to a certain degree has become a bit of a design cliche of late. I haven’t let this deter me though. I still have a massive soft spot for all things neon.
It’s been used as a medium of expression over the years by many artists – Tracey Emin, Jason Rhoades, and Dylan Neuwirth to name but a few. It smacks of Soho and many an insalubrious area; circus tents and theme parks; Las Vegas and excess… and I love the fact that neon has a seedy edge to it. But it is also a thing of upmost beauty and the art of neon is incredible. My neon hero is Chris Bracey of God’s Own Junkyard, who sadly passed away in November 2014. I had the pleasure of various email communications with Chris prior to his death. If you have never heard of him I urge you to investigate his vast collection of work. “His work can be seen in films as diverse as Batman, Blade Runner and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The Rainbow Fancy Dress and Sonata Jazz Café signs in Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut are both his: they now form part of the 700-strong collection in the Walthamstow workshop-cum-neon-museum.” The Guardian online, November 2014.
And if you are like me and dyeing to make something in neon yourself, then have a look at The Neon Workshop company based in Yorkshire. Set up by artist Richard William Wheater with the aim of teaching and exploring neon, it offers a number of different workshops. If you would like something closer to London, then why not try the fabulous Indytute – brainchild of the highly talented Calypso Rose – which offers neon-making courses delivered by The Neon Workshop.
With all this rain and grey sky, it’s a perfect time to be thinking about bringing a little light and colour into your home.