New Water Street Immersive Art Exhibit

At first glance, this new addition to Water Street might look like your average grocery store. But look closer and you’ll realize that nothing is actually edible, as each item is a handmade piece of art made from felt!

This new immersive art installation, Tampa Fresh Foods by Lucy Sparrow, is the latest work by British artist Lucy Sparrow. Featured through February 20, 2022 on Water Street in downtown Tampa, this fully functional supermarket took over two years to create and features over 50,000 handcrafted works of art on its shelves. Grab a basket and shop, as every item is available for purchase. Admission is however totally free!

This type of work is not new to Lucy, as her first felt installation Cornershop debuted in London in 2014. In 2016, Sparrow was commissioned by the BBC to recreate the Crown Jewels in felt, in honor of the Queen’s 90and birthday! The Vinik Family Foundation discovered her work, which led her to Tampa, and her most ambitious project to date.

Photo credit: Tiffany Sage/BFA.com

Tampa’s culture can be Felt All over

Tampa was Lucy’s muse for this project, inspiring her with its Cuban influences, fresh seafood and vibrant citrus. You can find Tampa staples throughout the store, including the Cuban Sandwich station. Visitors can create their own Cuban sandwich using an assortment of fluffy meats, cheeses, breads and condiments.

There’s also a temperature-controlled humidor that holds felt cigars. Sold individually or in hand-painted boxes, it’s the perfect souvenir to take home for the cigar lover in your life.

As soon as you walk in, you’ll find the produce section, filled with Florida favorites like limes and oranges. All fruits and vegetables have adorable smiling faces that will make you smile back.

The seafood counter offers fish and shellfish such as shrimp, salmon and crabs. Of all the items in the store, Lucy said the lobsters took her the longest time to create, but were her favorites on display.

It’s all in the details

Walking around, it’s easy to forget that it’s all felt. Lucy’s ability to recreate logos and packaging on hundreds of different products is nothing short of amazing.

When you enter, you’ll find a bakery section, with baked goods like cinnamon rolls, muffins, and bagels. Closer to the registers, there is a “takeout” area where you can pick up items such as boxes of sushi, hot dogs, and sandwiches.

Like a regular grocery store, there’s a “chilled” area with an abundance of soft drinks and dairy products, as well as frozen foods like Hot Pockets, Ben & Jerry’s pints, and fries. In addition to the Florida-inspired seafood counter, you’ll also find a meat counter and deli display.

As you walk the aisles, take a moment to appreciate all the details. The shelves are full of products so realistic you might forget it’s all made of felt!

My personal favorite sections are the liquor aisle, the candy aisle, and the produce. I plan on going back to buy a bottle of liquor to keep on my bar cart! There are so many fun ways to display this art in your home, should you decide to take something home.

Tampa Fresh Foods Details

Tampa Fresh Foods is presented by the Vinik Family Foundation and the non-profit organization Art Production Fund.

Or: 1050 Water Street, Tampa, FL 33602 (the Asher residence building – look for signs promoting Wagamama)

When: January 20-February 20, 2022

Cost: Free to see. Items are available for purchase.

Car park: Cumberland East Parking Lot

Tampa Fresh Foods Exhibit Produce Section

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