‘Electric City’ neon display lights up Leadenhall Market

‘Electric City’ neon display lights up Leadenhall Market

With its stunning interiors, shimmering glass, wrought iron structures and cobbled walkways, the City of London’s iconic Leadenhall Market is no stranger to the movies. It was the film location for wizard-world shopping street Diagon Alley in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and has played in a role in movies including Tomb Raider and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

Lights, neon and a great deal of action come into play at this Victorian covered market over the summer. The market’s collaboration with Walthamstow’s Gods Own Junkyard brings us an immersive technicolour production called Electric City. The installations display many key neon pieces which chart God’s Own Junkyard’s own place within movie history including the famous neon from Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut.

Neon display from Eyes Wide Shut at Electric City, Leadenhall Market
Neon display from Eyes Wide Shut at Electric City, Leadenhall Market

While GOJY’s legacy was established by Dick Bracey in 1953, producing neon for cinemas, casinos, nightclubs and fairgrounds, their journey in film started with Ridley Scott’s 1982 Sci-Fi epic Blade Runner.

Some years later while up a ladder installing a piece of neon in Soho, GOJY founder and neon artist the late 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.

Bracey considered it a highlight of his career when he was called upon to transform Pinewood Studios into Greenwich Village in New York for Stanley Kubrick‘s Eyes Wide Shut where parts of the village were recreated sign by sign.

Tom Cruise in a Greenwich Village scene in Eyes Wide Shut
Tom Cruise in Rainbow Rental Fancy Dress shop scene in Eyes Wide Shut

Kubrick didn’t want any additional lighting other than the lighting which featured in the film set itself, and a distinctive atmosphere was achieved by thousands of multi-coloured Christmas lights. This is referenced in the Leadenhall Kubrick vignette alongside the rainbow sign from the Rainbow Rentals fancy dress shop and the Sonata Jazz sign. 

Neon display from Eyes Wide Shut at Electric City, Leadenhall Market
Neon display from Eyes Wide Shut at Electric City, Leadenhall Market

Another installation features 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 God’s Own Junkyard’s Linda Bracey.

Neon display from Judge Dredd at Electric City, Leadenhall Market
Neon display from Judge Dredd at Electric City, Leadenhall Market

Electric City spotlights signs which have played a key part in cinematic history, in addition to their much-discussed Soho nostalgia. Actual screen-used signs on display from other movies including Batman, Judge Dredd, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and many others.

Electric City runs until Saturday 31st July 2021, at Leadenhall Market on Gracechurch Street, EC3V 1LT. Entry is free.

Love neon? You’ll also like this feature “The lure of electric colour: Neon Light in film.”

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