Roll up! Roll up! The Cornershop is now open. On a little road called Wellington Row, East of Hoxton sits the Cornershop, an art installation brought to you by Lucy Sparrow. Lucy is a material based artist who has used the idiom of the Cornershop to bring back the long gone notion of the local corner shop being the hub of the community. But here’s the catch, everything is made out of felt – every item is a commercial product which can be purchased
On Friday the 1st of August I set out to complete a mammoth challenge of travelling over 100 miles on a Friday night, across rush hour in London in order to make this exhibit. The Cornershop is situated a stone’s throw away from Hoxton in East London. It could be mistaken for a permanent corner shop too, the white panel window frames, the till within the window, the A-board perched outside.
There was an overflow of people filling out the street as we climbed out of the cab, they turned around as if I was some kind of celebrity, like a really flustered, disheveled, bag ridden celebrity with an SLR flung around my back. It wasn’t long before we were walking around the fantastic world of felt and frolickin’ good fun. The Cornershop installation was so immersive you were stopped in your tracks by every thread and needle stitch to peer at the products, a can of beans suddenly demanded 5 minutes of your time as you studied intensely the detail which Lucy Sparrow painstakingly spent hours on.
About the artist
Lucy represents herself as Sew Your Soul, her online portfolio boasts a colourful selection of felt-based art, the Ministructures series captures members of society holding felt based sculptures of the buildings they’re involved with. Whether it’s a newspaper editor at Canary Wharf, a general manager for the O2 arena to the technical manager of Tower Bridge, these people are captured infront of these buildings cuddling the soft cuddly building.
Although Lucy is known for her light hearted cuddly sculptures, previous exhibitions which Lucy has been involved with such as ‘The Art of Falling Apart‘ tackles mental health issues, a topic very close to Lucy’s heart. An artist is someone who has experienced the peaks and troughs of life, who handpicks the good bits and bad bits of their life and twists, turns, sews and glues it into a piece of life-shaped-art. Lucy has truly conquered this as The Cornershop puts on workshops for young children to come together and access art through sewing. I just love everything about this project.
Lucy is living proof that a good Kickstarter campaign works with a winnning idea, a bit of charisma and some hard work. As Lucy appeared on screen talking about the concept of the Cornershop, it’s difficult to repel the debit card at the end of it and by the sounds of things – I wasn’t the only one to think this! Overnight Lucy made her target of £2,000 and when I last looked at the page the amount had gone up to £8,000. Great work Lucy – I imagine alot of people in marketing would pay you thousands to have you on board their teams.
The exhibition was jam packed with things to look at and I really loved the close proximity of it all, as we shuffled around the shelves we were laughing with other visitors at the comical things…the weird shaped baby on the Pampers bag or the top shelf mags with topless ladies. There was cakes and sweets, an exhibition after my own heart.
The calibre of sewing was incredible, I asked Lucy how long she thought she had spent on all of these products – not surprisingly she’d lost count. The long and short of it is that this was 7 months worth of work, these products are the symbolism of willpower when you’re most tired, carrying on when your hands hurt from sewing, for me I am in awe of the drive and determination of Lucy to deliver an inconceivable idea and really make it happen.
This is like a real life Cornershop in that you CAN buy the products, albeit they are a little pricier than your usual can of Fanta but it’ll last you a lifetime. The shop is available here.
Ice lolly goodness!
Dairy milk buttons
Smirnoff, Whiskey and Gin.
Sweeties in a tub.
Oranges and beans!
The confectionary table… looks so much better than the real thing!
Chewing gum available to purchase at the counter.
I was so impressed by the Rizla!
Sew Your Soul on Facebook
Some further reading…
Ldn Card article on the Cornershop: “THE CORNERSHOP MADE ENTIRELY OF…FELT”
The Londonist: “Visit The Bethnal Green Felt Cornershop”
The Cornershop is at 19 Wellington Row, Bethnal Green E2 7BB until 31 August, 10am-7pm