When I was a kid, I used to set up a make-believe grocery shop in my bedroom and have a whale of a time for hours on end, selling imaginary products to imaginary customers. Artist Lucy Sparrow has pretty much taken this childhood fantasy and made it real (and I’m pretty damn jealous).
Meet Lucy, the girl who revived an abandoned corner shop in Bethnal Green, East London and filled it with felt– over 4,000 fuzzy creations to be precise. Every single item in the Corner Shop from the till, the (functioning) price gun to the Mars bars, newspapers and boxes of Durex “extra safe” condoms, were hand-sewn over a seven month period by this rather fantastic London artist.
But we’re no longer kids playing shop (right?!), so what’s the reason for a grocery store full of fluffy felt products, you ask?
Well, take a look at this Corner Store before Lucy got her crafty hands on it.
A pretty sorry site when she found it, Lucy hopes to raise awareness of the demise of “the Great British high street,” and get us thinking about our consumption behaviour by reviving the former corner shop in her own special (furry) way. Her huggable versions of everyday essentials, which are all quite excitingly for sale, range from £3 for a felt cigarette lighter, £15 for a packet of crisps, £30 for digestive biscuits to £840 for the shop’s till.
Lucy has the keys to this forgotten local laundrette for exactly one month, between August 1st and the 31st August. Having raised money through Kickstarter, the Arts Council and Tower Hamlets Council in order to rent the shop and give it a good sprucing up, Lucy has spent the last seven months sewing her colourful and huggable grocery products to breathe new life into this neglected retail space.
Every last item has been sewed by Lucy herself, who likes to say she’s been “knitting lives back together since 1986”. Back in May she updated her blog followers on her progress …
“I’ve barely left the house and when it’s unavoidable, I’ve been taking my sewing with me everywhere I go which has resulting in me sewing in some pretty weird places and getting strange looks from everyone. Last Sunday, I went on my friend’s narrowboat and we sailed down the Thames. I sat on the roof getting sunburnt and sewing all the crisps section.”
(A Cadbury’s 99 Flake just so happens to be Nessy’s all time favourite chocolate).
Throughout August, the Corner Shop will also be hosting various sewing workshops designed to engage the local community (particularly individuals with autism and sectors often socially excluded).
“[It’s] relatable, accessible art that’s relevant to them and their neighbourhood and has been brought right to their doorstep,” writes Lucy on her website.
You can sign up for the workshops in the shop or even propose an event for a charity you’re passionate about– just enquire with the shopkeeper, who’ll be manning the fuzzy till everyday from 10am-7pm.
And if you live too far away or just can’t make it to the shop in the month of August, Lucy has also set up an online shop to accompany the exhibition where you can browse and purchase products in the store online.
From a 99 flake and fish fingers to what is most certainly the softest loo roll ever manufactured, find the Corner Shop at 19 Wellington Row, London E2 7BB.
Visit Lucy Sparrow‘s website here.