Trade for prosperity

A pharmacy unlike any other opened its doors in London earlier this year.

The Bourdon Street Chemist in Mayfair was lined with 15,000 items such as medicines, shampoo and lotions. But these weren’t ordinary items that you’d find in a pharmacy – they were all handmade from felt!

They were the work of artist Lucy Sparrow. Her seventh major installation, recreating everyday objects out of felt has become her trademark and she has created textile retail experiences in cities including Beijing, New York and Los Angeles.

Painstaking attention to detail went into creating the pharmacy, which was based at Lyndsey Ingram’s West End gallery.

‘Patients’ flocked to Bourdon Street to purchase the felt pharmaceuticals from a white-coated Sparrow behind  the counter. ‘Public health videos’ were played to entertain shoppers while they waited their turn to be served.

When visitors bought an item, Lucy filled in a ‘prescription’ and signed and dated it as a certificate of authenticity. Felt Covid-19 testing kits were even on sale. Orders could also be made online from a ‘National Felt Service’ website.

Lucy, who started sewing aged six, says she chose a pharmacy partly as her way of paying tribute to the work of pharmacies during the pandemic.

The favourite item that she created was a giant tub of Vaseline “such a recognisable brand that it couldn’t really be missed out”.

The items were displayed in the pharmacy in sections including cold and flu, indigestion, feminine hygiene and pain relief. The pharmacy was originally scheduled to open in January but had to be postponed due to lockdown.

Lucy and her team created items in her workshop, a former ambulance station in Suffolk.

She said: “I love doing this so much, I could literally get up at five in the morning and work till 11 at night and be just happy forever. I hope that is conveyed in the making of these things. I hope that conveys what is in my head into real life and I think that is what art is about. :