The Warmongery is the second in a series of large installations by Lucy Sparrow, the textile artist who brought the outstandingly successful Cornershop to East London in the summer of 2014. This is the artist’s fourth solo show and her third major installation in East London.
Visitors walking into The Warmongery will be entering an armoury where the walls are lined with an arsenal of felt guns, knives, pistols and explosives. Purchasers of weapons will receive a felt firearm licence while behind the counter there will be a range of biological and chemical weapons, dispensed from sweetshop jars. Shop assistants in full biohazard suits will be checking visitors to The Warmongery for traces of radiation and bacteria while the more discerning arms shopper will be able to discuss a range of bespoke felt nuclear devices with the artist.
For those who saw Lucy Sparrow’s Cornershop show in Bethnal Green, in 2014, The Warmongery will seem like an aggressive and slightly controversial older brother, but the artist is keen to emphasise that the weapons themselves aren’t inherently evil. The people who wield weapons are the evil in this equation. With weapons made entirely of felt, Sparrow hopes to ‘disarm’ the entire subject of weaponry and enable people to handle items that are entirely inert and completely unthreatening.
Lucy Sparrow has been making commentary on the important subject of mental health for some time and hopes that The Warmongery will focus the public’s attention on what drives people to extreme violence.
Sparrow comments, “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.”
Despite the serious subject matter, The Warmongery promises to be an ingenious installation and is open for just a very short time. Visitors will judge for themselves what the artist is saying and engage with weapons in a way that will completely disarm the viewer.
Lucy Sparrow’s Warmongery is open to the public from Tuesday, 12th May 2015 at BOXPARK, 2 Bethnal Green Road, London E1 6GY. All work will be available at www.thewarmongery.com from 2 May 2015.