Corner Shop Full o’ Felt Art
THE CORNERSHOP IS A FELT ART INSTALLATION THAT WAS THE BRAINCHILD OF LONDON-BASED ARTIST LUCY SPARROW. IT GREW OUT OF AN IDEA TO CREATE AN INSTALLATION THAT WOULD BE OVERWHELMING TO PEOPLE VISITING. THE ACTUAL SHOP, FILLED WITH GOODS MADE ENTIRELY OF FELT (AND WITH EVERY PIECE AVAILABLE FOR SALE), WAS OPEN TO THE PUBLIC FOR THE WHOLE MONTH OF AUGUST IN BETHNAL GREEN, UK.
by Mindy Cook
“I wanted to create something that was so complete, it drew people in and surrounded them completely.” Lucy explained. “I also wanted to draw attention to the role of the traditional cornershop where the community met, swapped gossip and forged bonds. It’s something that is disappearing with major supermarkets now a fixed feature of suburban and village landscapes. This loss of the cornershop has adversely impacted our high streets and communities.
I hoped that this project would remind people just how much the cornershop cemented life in local communities. So far it’s done just that. Visitors to The Cornershop have chatted, discussed art and reminisced about their own childhood memories of cornershops. My first job was in a local shop and it’s that memory that inspired me to take eight months to assemble each hand-stitched piece and to create a complete installation.”
“Selling in The Cornershop was all about the complete shopping experience.”
Why ‘felt’ as the medium?
I chose felt because it’s a naïve, almost childlike material that everyone comes into contact with at a young age when they first start to sew. It’s a very forgiving fabric that’s approachable and is available in a huge range of colours. It was just the right material to give the pieces saturation, stroke-ability and a uniform appearance.
How much help did you enlist and how many pieces in total?
I made the majority of the 4000 items myself but I did enlist the help of my mum and an assistant to help with the basic stuffing and sewing of the shapes. All the decoration and writing was created by me. I thought that was important with art. People want to know you made the items and not someone in a workshop on low pay.
Now that the exhibition has finished – on reflection did it reach your expectations?
It far exceeded my expectations. We had over 10,000 visitors and amazing media coverage. The workshops were really well attended and created a lot of interest.
I have plans to do something in New York next year as well as another exhibition in London. I think it will be a very busy year after the success of The Cornershop. I’m going to be working nights again!
We hope to see Lucy Sparrow’s thought provoking, yet refreshingly charming creativity heading our way sometime soon. The IntoCraft team will keep you posted with updates.
You can read more about Lucy Sparrow’s The Cornershop on her blog: http://thecornershopblog.com/
Photography credits: Jonathan Simpson and Lucy Sparrow