There are a lot of cool things to know about Lucy Sparrow! She loves bananas, she’s got a cool name, she loves military history, she loves sewing and she has decided to make an entire corner shop out of nothing but felt and wool.
To give some perspective to this ambitious project she will spend from now until August sewing together the many items needed to make the shop a reality. From chocolate bars to penny sweets and from magazines to cigarette packets, everything in the shop needs to be made from scratch with nothing but a needle, thread, some felt and some wool.
I first came across Lucy’s project on Kickstarter! I love Kickstarter, there are some great projects on there which would never get made if the concept of crowd funding didn’t exist. One persons imagination and drive to do something wonderful can inspire a whole host of others who are in turn inspired and who want to support the project in some small way. Where else would you come across a project to sew together an entire cornershop which people can walk into, look around, pick up the items and even read a paper.
I met Lucy at the Collective in Camden, a cool little market type venue a couple minutes walk from Camden Town station. She was promoting the project and selling cans of beans made out of wool telling me that from now until August a full seven months away she would be spending every day just sewing. “I can make a can of beans in about 30 minutes” she told me, “but I need to make about 50 of each brand”.
In total she will hand sew over 2000 items. “I’ll make 10 of each brand of chocolate bar, maybe 3 of each magazine, all the cigarette packets, maybe about 5 each of them” as she works her way through the list the size of the task becomes clearer. “The Shelves will be covered, so will the floor, the till will be covered and the counter will be felt. There will even be a felt lottery machine where you can buy felt lottery tickets”. And one ticket, she told me, would win something really big from the shop itself.
The project has really captured the imagination and within hours of the Kickstarter campaign being launched over £600 had been raised “then I went to bed and when I woke up it was £3500” and it just grew from there she told me. When we speak at the Collective, the total is well over £8000 and rising, people it would seem love the idea of the felt cornershop, and if it raises over £10000? “I will give you a fruit and veg stand made out of felt and wool and maybe a flower stand.” There is, it seems, no end to the ambition of Lucy Sparrow.
But in reality the Kickstarter campaign was only meant to raise a fraction of the funding needed following a successful application to the Arts Council and for Lucy the validation of her art from the arts council is important. Explaining, she told me “as an artist who works on the fringes of what is fine art and what is craft, quite often there’s a lot of people who don’t necessarily believe what you’re doing is art, it’s kind of like, oh, it’s just toys. I get that a lot” she sighs.
But the installation promises to be much more than toys “it’s going to be a real experience for the senses” says Lucy “it’s going to be absolutely immersive and not just a feast for the eyes”. Picturing the scene she explains how the moment you walk through the door, everything will be made of felt. “The acoustics in there completely change” she told me “it even happens in my studio, you have so much fabric that it’s almost like a sound proofed room… it’s like this weird feeling of being in this super soft cocoon.”
Of course Lucy herself will also be working behind the counter “and when I’m not there I’ll be stacking shelves, maybe with a hair net, I don’t know yet” she laughs. For the customers it’s going to be a real experience “it’s going to be so overwhelming that people won’t know what to do in there. I want people to return to their homes and the first thing they say is ‘you just won’t believe where I’ve been today…”
It’s going to be a fun project to keep track of and we’ll certainly be doing that over here on Inspiring City. The Cornershop will be on Elvin Street in Bethnal Green and the installation will happen during the month of August 2014, Lucy was interviewed at the Collective in Camden on 1st February 2014. For more information check out the website of Lucy Sparrow or the Kickstarter project page.