Lucy Sparrow is a quirky felt artist who mass produces felt replicas of branded goods like grocery store items, fresh fruit and veg, daily papers. She loves to recreate well-known and loved foods from British households and then sell them in quaint corner stores where people can purchase these reasonably priced and bite size pieces of modern art. Recently she ventured across the Atlantic and set up a deli in New York City. And at one stage she had a Sex Shop where you could buy hand felted pornos, condoms, masks and dildos by the dozen Wherever she goes, she loves to delight, bemuse and attract people with her creations.
Each creation is a kingdom of kitsch and a parody on the enthusiasm that people have for the different consumables.
“I wanted to make an installation that would get people to feel sick with sheer wonderment and excitement. I’ve always tried to capture that feeling when you’re really excited about something and you want to flap your arms about. The Cornershop, to me, is that. It’s the possibility that anything can be achieved and that no matter how mad or silly an idea is, there’s someone out there doing it.
“I want people to question my sanity and wonder why on earth someone would devote the best part of a year to making something so zany. Before production of the project started, I’d been planning it for about eight months. The idea actually came about on the Oxford Tube bus going out of London, around about Marble Arch. My partner and I were scribbling crazy ideas down in the back of a notebook and now here we are, it almost doesn’t seem real,” Lucy says.
“I love Grayson Perry for his playfulness and his confidence to make work that he likes, not what other people like. I also really love the Chapman Brothers and their dark subject matter and pure evil sense of humour. I want to make people uncomfortable and a bit weirded out when they see my work,” she says.
Sparrow has been knitting in one way or another since she was four years old. She made a felt star to hang on the Christmas tree and her mum still has it.
“Knitting didn’t come naturally, I still hold my needles wrong and it took me years to learn. i used to leave my knitting around my mum and my gran in the hope that they’d get bored and do it for me. I used to go to school with some very holly homemade scarfs that used to drive some of my teachers bonkers,” she says.
Of all of her felt creations, she loved creating these ones the best. “I like the Nurofen and the custard and the Spam Fritters. Not everything translates well into felt but they do for some reason,” Lucy says.
“You can buy all the items in The Cornershop, even the shop fittings! If you can’t make it to the actual shop, you can also get stuff online here too! Love hearts are only available in giant packs and they’re going to Swizzel’s I’m afraid. I’m tempted to do a limited run though as people seem to really love them,” she says.
“The porn mags are one of my favourites too. It’s just so wrong on so many levels but it works. It’s an innocent, childlike medium which has been taken to the extreme and made into something naughty and beautiful. I love including details in these things, there’s a lot of in jokes and hidden meanings in my work and the porn mags are some of the best opportunities for this,” she says.
In 2017, Lucy set up a Bodega in New York City called 8 Till Late. All of her 9,000 felt consumables sold out nine days before the end of the exhibition and she had to shut up shop early. That’s what I’d call a successful retail enterprise.