“We had a girl come in here this morning with a real red-eye hangover asking for Tylenol,” Lucy Sparrow said with a laugh yesterday as she wore a felt apron and cap. “We don’t have the real thing, but I showed her ours. She didn’t find it as funny as we did.” The 30-year-old London-based artist known for her felt sculptures was on hand to debut 8 Till Late, an installation 9 months in the making and produced in conjunction with the adjacent Standard, High Line hotel. In its first iteration, Sparrow debuted a similar storefront in 2014 located in East London entitled The Cornershop, and after much acclaim, she sought to produce it again across the pond. Now, with over $50,000 in backing from her loyal fans on Kickstarter, 8 Till Late has finally come to pass.
The concept, located just around the corner from the bustling Standard Biergarten, is a convenience store with a twist. Inside, shoppers will find all of the usual sundries stocked at your local bodega like pre-packaged deli meats, Ben & Jerry’s pints, and yes, even Tylenol, except they’re all rendered in felt. Entirely hand-sewn by Sparrow, the 9,000 items were shipped from the United Kingdom over the course of four commercial flights, and include large-scale appliances like a cash wrap and a soda fridge.
Throughout the display are hidden messages. Some of the items—from fruits and vegetables to rotisserie hot dogs—have a smiling face, used as a way to show that these were once alive before they landed in-store. In another room, a felted metallic shopping cart filled to the hilt with a seemingly random assortment of items like frozen prawns and Brillo pads, acts as a centerpiece. Entitled Shoplifting, it showcases the items most often stolen from supermarkets in the United Kingdom. The 1 of 1 work can be yours for $18,500.
As a whole, 8 Till Late feeds into the zeitgeist of experiential—or perhaps Instagrammable—artworks. Similar examples in recent years include Daniel Arsham’s cave lined with thousands of purple plaster basketballs in his “Circa 2345” solo exhibition, and Christopher Chiappa’s 7,000 fried eggs placed throughout the Kate Werble Gallery. Both may have required a dedication to replicating a single process, but remained untouchable thanks to their fragility. Sparrow is taking her immersive experience one step further. Shoplifting notwithstanding, the plush artworks for sale start as low as $5, making them easily plucked from the shop’s shelves and accessible to the masses.