On August 1, UK-based contemporary artist Lucy Sparrow opened Sparrow Market at The Standard, Downtown L.A. for her West Coast debut. The shop follows her 8 Till Late shop that opened last summer at The Standard, High Line in New York, continuing her partnership with the hospitality brand and supported by Discover Los Angeles.
For the occasion, every one of Sparrow’s 31,000 felt works are available for purchase in store, such as her iconic candy, cleaning products, fish, burgers, and booze works. Special for the market, as well, is a 1980s-inspired sound and vision department that holds a felt movie section, offering the decade’s biggest hits on VHS and Betamax.
“There is incredible joy and subversion in Lucy’s work, which makes her installations catnip for a brand like The Standard. Her installation is a fascinating mix of social commentary, childlike delight, and in the end, removes you from your day to day and lets you focus on a world you’ve never imagined,” said Landis Smithers, Chief Creative Officer of The Standard. “Why wouldn’t The Standard support an artist with that much insight and power?”
To learn more about her immersive store, being honored by the Queen, and her very first piece, we spoke with Sparrow.
WHITEWALL: Tell us a bit about Sparrow Market installation—your West Coast debut at The Standard, Downtown L.A.
LUCY SPARROW: Sparrow Mart is my biggest project to date – a fully felted supermarket stocked with 31,000 hand sewn, hand painted felt groceries. We basically have every product you would find in a regular supermarket but and stitched: alcohol, health and beauty, fruit and vegetables, candy, and my favourite—the household section.
WW: This installation follows your ” Till Late at The Standard, High Line last year. Why is The Standard a brand that you enjoy collaborating with?
LS: They are just the best partner – really open minded to crazy ideas and have had the faith to believe in my projects. They are the most felt aware hotel group in the world. I love The Standard.
WW: Every single one of your 31,000 felt artworks is available to buy in store. Which is your favorite?
LS: Windex. I love the color and the squirty trigger mechanism!
WW: How long has it taken you to create all of these pieces?
LS: All in all, it took a year to produce. I have some help with sewing but each product is hand-painted by me.
WW: What was your very first felt piece? How has your practice evolved or stayed the same?
LS: A felt star I made when I was eight. It was made to go on our Christmas tree. The work has evolved in that I now pay way more attention to detail! My sewing is much better!
WW: Tell us a bit about your studio, and what a typical day there is like.
LS: My studio is called the Felt Cave and it’s on a farm in Essex in the east of England. There is no such thing as a typical day. There’s a lot of painting and sewing—all of which is done while listening to Britpop and True Crime podcasts.
WW: You mentioned being inspired by Los Angeles since you were a kid. Why, or what about it was particularly intriguing?
LS: As a child, I grew up obsessed with America. Los Angeles felt like a magical place to me, growing up in 2-D grey, post-recession Britain. My practice has been hugely influenced by the dazzle of the USA—where the packaging is bigger, bolder, and brighter.
WW: Tell us a bit about working and exploring art in the UK. Where do you enjoying seeing art?
LS: Everywhere I travel I make sure I investigate the art scene. We are totally spoiled in the UK, but L.A. is amazing.
WW: Have you seen a recent exhibition you’re still thinking about?
LS: I am still obsessed with the Jeff Koons exhibit I saw at Damien Hirst’s Newport Street Gallery.
WW: Two years ago, the BBC commissioned you to recreate the Crown Jewels in felt to celebrate HRH The Queen’s official 90th birthday. Tell us a bit about being recognized in your country, and elsewhere, for playful and fun art.
LS: That was an amazing commission. It was such an intricate job re-creating some of the most priceless and well-known jewels in the UK. In each installation I undertake, I really love seeing the public reaction. It’s a mix of nostalgia and happiness, and we hear so many stories of how people relate to the products and why they love them. In every install we are also guaranteed to have a number of people who think the products are real and there really isn’t a better endorsement of my work!