Neon Wonderland at Imitate Modern

Imitate Modern is currently lighting up the dull, grey streets of London with its blinding exhibition, Neon Wonderland. Tucked away in Shepherd Market, Imitate Modern is like a lone star in a dark sky, its blaze shining brightly out onto the street, luring passers by to come in and marvel at the beauty it holds inside.

When we hear the word “neon”, we think of a colour but it is, in fact, a chemical element, and a noble gas. It is a colourless, odourless gas. Neon was the second of three rare gases to be discovered and was immediately recognised as a new element from its bright red emission spectrum. The name ‘neon’ is derived from the Greek word, νέον, meaning new. It has three stable isotopes and these stable isotopes of neon are produced in stars. Neon is created in fusing helium and oxygen in the alpha process, which requires temperatures above 100 megakelvin, which are only available in the cores of stars of more than 3 solar masses, making neon all the more magical.

Although the exhibition is called Neon Wonderland, much of the neon featured is not true neon but a mix of neon with other gases. The method of mixing neon with other gases creates new colours; hydrogen (red); helium (yellow), carbon dioxide (white), and mercury (blue).

Featuring work by many artists including Lauren Baker, Half A Roast Chicken, Rebecca Mason, Illuminati Neon and Luc Waring, the exhibition includes many stunning pieces, which cover many themes of social ideologies, mixed with a combination of scientific principles and artistic expression. Towing over viewers in the upstairs room of the gallery is a fabulous piece of work showing the Duchess of Cambridge, Catherine Middleton. She is featured with bright yellow lights around her head, almost like a halo, with the words “I AM KATE” beneath her in neon; the A in Kate is drawn as the anarchist symbol. Around her, slightly hidden in the background are three small phrases;

The false prophets shall rise and show signs and wonders to lead astray, to seduce, - if possible - the elite.” 

“Let our voices be heard by the death, let our words be seen by the blind.”

 “Do not allow them to fool the mind, for we are everywhere.”

 Downstairs, the exhibition features many more wondrous neon creations. Many of the pieces seem to be inspired by music, including a wooden board with the Elvis Presley lyrics, ‘Love me tender. Love me true. All my dreams fulfilled.’ written across it, with ‘LOVE ME TENDER’ in neon.

Another shows a display of cassettes as a frame around the word, ‘WASTED’ while another, surrounded by a golden frame, displays the Union Jack with ‘London Calling’ in neon, possibly inspired by The Clash.

Neon Wonderland is truly a dive down a dazzling rabbit hole, which throws viewers into an enchanting and fantastical neon world. The rooms are entirely lit up in a pink as the neon dances around the room, leaving visitors feeling spellbound and hypnotized by the time they leave.

Neon Wonderland is on at Imitate Modern until 12th April.  More information may be found here.