After the runaway success of Lucy Sparrow’s Cornershop, the artist opens her second large installation, The Warmongery at Boxpark, Shoreditch.

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If you missed Lucy Sparrow’s runaway success, Bethnal Green’s Cornershop last year, you missed out on a literal treat. Your local store was full of hand stitched felt stock, selling out near immediately. Lucy’s back this summer for her third large installation at Boxpark, Shoreditch. This time, things have taken a rather darker turn. For Warmongery, Lucy devoted her time to weapons: firearms, knives, tanks and nuclear and biochemical weapons. Enter the shipping container and you’ll be checked by shop assistants in biohazard suits for traces of radiation and bacteria. Pick a purchase and you will receive your very own felt firearms license.

It seems like a stark contrast to last years sweets and biscuits but Lucy’s desire is to remove the violence from firearms, to make them handleable and accessible, “The aim of The Warmongery is to draw people’s attention to what drives a few individuals to stockpile weapons and to ask why people are growing up in a world where a tiny minority feel so stressed and frustrated that they want to kill people. Although the exhibition isn’t intended to be a glorification of guns, what is clear is that obesity, alcohol, tobacco and drugs claim far more lives than firearms do in our high-stress society. Rather than banning guns we should look at better mental health treatment because if people are stressed they will always find a way to unleash their distress. The Warmongery hopes to decouple the subject of guns from mental illness.”

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We met the artist before the exhibition opened to find out more:

Why have you used felt, do you think you’ll ever change what you work with?

Lucy Sparrow: It’s unlikely. It’s like a painter uses paint as their medium, felt is absolutely my medium and that’s what I’ll always work with. Maybe we’ll use some different fabrics, we might might branch out but felt is just so lovely so why change it?

Why have you decided to create weapons?

LS: I am very interested in military history and everything to do it, warfare and the grizzly events of people getting harmed, what better to turn it on its head than to use a fabric that is so innocent and childlike, it just completely messes with your head.

When you were planning, what were your main reference points?

LS: I tend to just keep things in my head and I make a lot of lists. I knew generally from the conception of the idea what it’s going to look like and I go from there, things that I definitely wanted, things that I had to include and points that I wanted to get across.

What was the hardest thing to make?

LS: Probably the tank, it’s just very fiddly, it takes a long time and it’s awkward.

Do you ever get to a point when you just need to take a break and not look at felt? It all seems very intricate.

LS: A change is as good as a break. Just change what you’re doing and it’s like having a cup of tea!

How long in total would you say the exhibition took you?

LS: Two months!

What’s your overall message to people who might come see the exhibition?

LS: I think it’s just to keep an open mind and not to read on the surface on what it’s about and not to jump to conclusions because that’s probably what I want you to do!

What was your favourite thing to make?

LS: The atomic bombs, because I’m really obsessed with the Cold War and the threat of total annihilation that interests me and scares me at the same time.

In felt!

LS: Yes! Felt annihilation.

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The Warmongery is open now at Boxpark Shoreditch.

Words: Lily Walker.


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