Last week Jay and I popped down to Brewer Street after work for the re-opening of Lights of Soho, a gallery specialising in light art. We both absolutely love neon art, though sadly this love only manifests itself via our screensavers at work as we are too sad and poor to spend thousands on art. (Or, indeed, anything. Like most Londoners, our income is quickly frittered away on essentials, like rent and Uber, before we can spend it on fabulous artworks for our scabby rented digs.)
So, as you can understand, we were very excited. Unfortunately I’d been working on site that afternoon in Fitzrovia and just cycled myself down to Soho afterwards, so I was tragically under-dressed and also a bit sweaty…especially compared to the scores of identikit skinny blondes all sporting fluffy black eyelashes and bold red lips. Nothing screams glamour! like helmet hair and a luminous blue sports rucksack after all, so I held my head high and pretended I was being ironic. Jay, who turned up with a proper shirt and Mulberry gym bag, tried not to look too embarrassed. (He is a true friend.)
Despite the fact that I was being upstaged by literally everyone – including the people collecting glasses who presumably didn’t give a shit what anyone thought of them – it was totally worth the
humiliation trip. There were iconic pieces by Chris Bracey (of ‘God’s Own Junkyard’ fame) and Tracey Emin (bit of a sly dog when it comes to pissing on beds and selling them for squillions of pounds, but a dab hand with a neon light bulb), and lots of pieces by lesser-known artists too. One of my favourites was this piece by Rebecca Mason, a snip at £4,800.
The gallery, which used to be an old brothel (hardly shocking on Brewer Street but looks good in the press release), is also a members’-only creative space with a lounge in the basement and a programme of special films and events. It’s also a bargain by Soho private members’ clubs standards at just £100-150 a year. (By comparison, Soho House’s grubbing tentacles have hiked up prices to £400-800, plus a non-refundable £200 registration fee. Apparently it’s owned by Walmart these days.)
But you don’t have to be a member to see the pretty lights. The gallery is open to the public from 11am to 6pm every day, and only after that is it reserved for its members. There’s bar and they’ll soon be introducing small plates from Mark Hix, whose eponymous bistro is just down the road, so to get the full experience you may have to indulge in a spot of daytime drinking. All in the name of art appreciation, you understand…
So if you’re a fan of light art, get yourself down there; it’s so hot right now. (Literally…after 20 minutes we were sweating like water buffalo, although the skinny blondes and mustachioed short trouser brigade were inexplicably unruffled by the sweltering combination of mass bodies and a large amount of neon light in a relatively small space. So yeah, don’t wrap up.)
Lights of Soho, 35 Brewer Street, London W1F 0RX
Author: Emily Gibson
Emily is an urban adventurer, blogger and
glutton foodie on an epic quest to uncover the best things to eat, drink and do in London. She lives in Islington and loves ceviche, cycling and magic shows. Lifelong nemeses include beetroot, beards and wine served in tumblers.