Lucy Sparrow

You may remember artist Lucy Sparrow from the time she opened a corner shop in Bethnal Green and she’d created all of the stock out of felt. Or the time she took over a sex shop in Soho and all of the porno mags, vibrators, whips and stuff were also her felt creations. Her latest exhibition, at the Lawrence Alkin Gallery, is called ‘Shoplifting‘ and celebrates the fact that everyone’s been a bit light with their fingers at some point in their life. It runs until 26th November.

You’ve previously created whole shops of felt goods. Was doing a shoplifter show the natural progression?
I’ve always been fascinated by shoplifting. I worked in supermarkets for years and was constantly amazed by the sheer number of people nicking stuff and the sometimes brilliant, sometimes blatantly crap ways they did it. It really took the edge off the sheer monotony of stacking shelves. It’s such a widespread crime we can all relate to – nearly everyone you ask will have a story of robbing something at some point in their lives. But the stories that really fascinate me are when rich and famous people get caught attempting to get a five-finger discount. I mean why risk it?

How many sewing machines have you gone through?
Three in the last two years – Sheila, Jerome Flynn (he was a Singer) and Mr Pink. 

How much of the work do you have to do by hand?
Oh thousands and thousands of hours of work by hand! Most of the work is hand stitched and all of the painting and finishing is done by hand. 

Have you got a favourite piece in the show? The packet of bacon looks quite tasty…
My favourite piece is the Spam installation of 182 cans of Spam – what’s not to love? I really love the medicine cabinet too – there’s something very reassuring about all of that first aid in one place!

What if someone nicks something from your exhibition?
Everyone will be strip searched before they leave the gallery so we’ll be reclaiming all stolen goods. But thieves will not be prosecuted.

Interview: Josh Jones
Photo: Tom Medwell

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