She recreated the crown jewels in felt for Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th birthday and now for the Platinum Jubilee, artist Lucy Sparrow is laying on an entire felt banquet for the delectation of Royals and commoners alike. The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Lunch (2022) features a magnificent spread of cakes, sandwiches, crisps and all manner of comestibles, arranged along a 6m Union Jack tablecloth edged with bunting and entirely fashioned from the vividly coloured fuzzy fabric so beloved of children and crafters. There are felt sausage rolls, Jammie Dodger biscuits, Hula Hoop crisps and Scotch eggs, along with bottles of bubbly, cups of tea and of course a Victoria sponge and the brand new 'platinum pudding'.
“It’s a very down-to-earth English party—I want it to hark back to those D-day parties stretching all the way down terraced housing blocks,” says Sparrow, adding that “my work has always been about community and breaking down barriers between classes”.
Sparrow’s gastronomic felt fest will be unveiled before the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall when it forms the centrepiece to the Big Jubilee Lunch (serving real food) which is taking place at the Oval Cricket Ground in South London on 5 June. Here the Royals will be joined by several thousand guests, many from the local community and representatives of charities, and will be giving out awards to key ‘Platinum Champion’ volunteers.
“I wouldn’t say that I’m a super-Royalist,” Sparrow says, “I’m just so happy that we can all come together again. No matter what you feel about the Royals, 70 years on the throne is such an insane milestone that it should be celebrated even just from a human point of view.”
After its first Jubilee Weekend airing the felt feast will be laid out in the Grand Entrance of Buckingham Palace, where it will remain during the time that the palace is open to the public from 22 July-2 October. “I’m still pinching myself” says Sparrow, who turned the entire project around in just ten weeks. “I went on a tour of Buckingham Palace last week and there’s works by Rembrandt and Vermeer, and then there’s going to be my stuff—it really is quite surreal.”
Whether Sparrow’s felt Jammy Dodgers and Cheesy Wotsits will end up permanently nestling amongst the Rembrandts and Leonardos in the Royal Collection remains to be seen. “It hasn’t been discussed yet—it’s all happened so quickly” she says. “It’s quite a big piece, it fills a whole van—though they could always take just a small part.”
Sparrow is not the only artist pulling out the stops for the Platinum Jubilee weekend. But for those requiring a more contemplative, crowd-free Jubilee art experience, artist Leo Villareal is choreographing a special Jubilee work that will link nine London bridges in light, starting from sunset today (2 June) and continuing every night until 2am on 6 June.
For the past few years Villareal’s Illuminated River project has been lightingup Lambeth, Westminster, Golden Jubilee, Waterloo, Blackfriars Road, Millennium, Southwark, Cannon Street and London Bridges in what is the longest public art commission in the world. But now this five-day Jubilee version will thread special sequences of platinum and purple throughout the existing colour scheme, illuminating the river, its bridges and its surroundings in what promises to be a right royal spectacle.