Art can be intense and purposeful, or it can be flashy and meaningless. But the one kind of art we cannot help but love is ‘cute and cuddly’, right? I have good news for you, my friends, because the way artist Lucy Sparrow crafts felt fabric into soft, adorable pieces is simply mesmerising.
The childlike wonder of felt
At a first glance, her artwork just looks like toys. Soft toys are not uncommon at all. But when you realize that a single person handcrafted each of these by herself, filling them with passion and emotion and meaningful messages, you’re left awestruck. Lucy Sparrow is a contemporary urban artist hailing from England. She is an expert in incorporating textile within the field of art by using felt and wool as her mediums. Much of the public’s fascination with her work lies in the fact that she creates EXACT felt replicas of already existing objects, and sometimes goes a step further by producing giant, soft versions of stuff.
Arrow started sewing with felt at the tender age of 8 years. As she grew up, she may have left behind her childhood but not the fascination and talent for working with a material that is so beloved by children. Her work is often called ‘quirky yet subversive’, referring to how people are attracted by the colorful and soft creations and then hit by her hidden commentary on subjects such as the downfall of the traditional high street to censorship in pornography.
Spreading the love through her exhibits
She brought along a wave of surprise in 2014 with her first large-scale creation- turning an abandoned shop into a fully stocked Cornershop installation in London. It was an art exhibit / commercial store filled with 4,000 of Sparrow’s hand-sewn products, where you could actually buy the chips or magazine plushies! The speed at which it sold out was a testament to her success.
Another exhibit titled Warmongery garnered some controversial attention with its exploration of issues like gun control and mental health. A pretty intriguing, unique, and bold piece of Sparrow’s is Madame Roxy’s Erotic Emporium which is basically a sex shop fully donned in technicolor felt. You can find a replica of every adult store object here, right down to the warning signs and shop policies for customers, and even its own, perfectly functional, animated felt peep show.
She then went on to create The Bourdon Street Chemist, a full-size pharmacy stocked with any and every medicine you might need- except it is all wool. She has been seen to sit at the counter as a nurse and write out bills for plush bottles of Pepto Bismol, aspirin, etc.
One of her most celebrated solo exhibits is named Imitation, and rightly so, because here she has recreated felt versions of famous modern works of art. Finding inspiration from Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, Mondrian, and Grayson Perry, Sparrow has sort of paid homage to these artists by developing her own, comedic interpretation of their intense pieces. She calls this lighthearted gallery a process where ‘craft meets the conceptual’.
Sparrow Mart- the big show
Coming to what could be called her blockbuster show, Lucy Sparrow spread her artistic wings into a Los Angeles shop and created Sparrow Mart. This ‘80s style supermarket has shelves and aisles lined with 31,000 of her felt products, which include every day-to-day thing you can think of. Ramen? Check. Soda pop? Check. Fruits? Check. Even meat?! CHECK! And they are not some generic, crudely sewed objects; they bear a shocking resemblance to the actual packaging that brands offer on their products. The eye for detail and the determination to get it all right shines through from the elaborate nature of her display.
She has similarly transformed two New York bodegas, owing largely to her increasing popularity and demand, and to her dedication to the issue of such stores dying out. It’s fully justified though because stepping inside one of these stores is a whole experience – from choosing a plushie of your choice to cashing it out at the fully felt register.
Now, on a scale of 1-10, how would you rate the wholesomeness of a cheerful and spirited woman doing something so original and spreading such childlike joy? For me, it is a perfect 10!
If you loved reading this post, check out- 5 Times Artists Went Wild With Their Art Mediums.