In 2014, Lucy Sparrow embarked on an ambitious project to build a whole corner shop in East London. It was stocked with ketchup bottles, soup cans, detergent, fresh fruit, and other bits and bobs you expect to find in any typical British corner shop. But the products were all be fluffy, fuzzy, felt replicas. Beside just the novelty and delight of it all, her objective was to draw attention to our collective consumption habits, to investigate what the products say about British politics, to celebrate the place of the corner shop in British culture and lament their dwindling numbers.
Corner shops have an often unnoticed but important part to play in all our daily lives, and in Sparrow’s case – like many of us – they played a role in her coming-of-age journey. “One of my first unescorted excursions out of the house as a kid was the corner shop; that and the park. Understandably it became quite a familiar place to go and I think to any kid given the responsibility of being able to spend their pocket money there, it holds some pretty special memories,” she says.
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