The Corner Shop Project

2000

London, UK

To refurbish and arrange events in ‘A Supermarket’,
a corner shop in New Cross in London


Description of Community and Public Art Project

 

Eleven artists have been invited to refurbish and arrange events in ‘A Supermarket’, which is a local corner shop supermarket on Lewisham Way in South-East London. We will re-design the supermarket in order to enhance the way it functions as a local and social meeting point. We will carefully investigate these functions and aim to emphasise the points that create communication.

The aim of the project is to use art as a tool to research the social functions of local meeting points in order to create better conditions for communication between people. The idea is to redefine the idea of the shop and to propose a new form of functional public sculpture. We believe that art in public places should be part of the local-social context and therefore create dialogue rather than objects.

The project is a negotiation between the individual communication strategies of the artists, the shop owners economical goal and the wishes of the customers. With the latter we mean that we will engage the local community in the project and tailor it to their interests and needs. So, we do not impose anything on the shop, but research the context and needs and use that as a basis for a creative solution for increased dialogue.

This project also take into consideration that the local supermarkets on Lewisham Way are under extensive competition from Sainsbury and Tesco supermarkets. If the local shops dies there are far less opportunities for local residents to meet, acquaint and thereby respect and interact with each other.

The project is curated by Kenneth A. Balfelt who invited Stefan Saffer (D), Amy Plant (UK), Jeremy Deller (UK), Jeppe Hein (DK), Hester Oerlemans (NL)/Wilma Sommers (NL), Julie Boserup (DK)/Cecilie Graversen (DK), Apolonija Sustersic (SL/NL) and set designer Nicolai Hart (DK). The artists will make projects that goes hand in hand with the function of the supermarket.

The project is an ongoing process. The first part of the project was made by Kenneth A. Balfelt with assitance from Jeppe Hein. It was a customer survey to help Mr. Siva, the owner, to see what the customers thought about the shop, the staff, product range, etc. We also asked what new products they where interested in.

The second project was made by Jeppe Hein with assistance from Kenneth A. Balfelt to refurbish the toilet and turn it in to a public toilet.

In addition to curating the project, I will make the following:

• Exchange of recipe project with a special display containing all the ingredients for the course
• New lottery stand with e.g. a book of numbers and items for luck
• Interior design and shop layout (in cooperation with set designer Michael Hart)

 

Plan for Re-design of ‘A Supermarket’in New Cross
in London with set designer Nicolai Hart, 2001

Part of the ‘Corner Shop Project ‘is to refurbish and redesign the corner shop supermarket. The thoughts behind were the following:

• Not to unify the shop as chains does – people are different and come there for
different purposes. We do not want to impose one style or target one group of people
• To make the shop visually closer to the home – 90% of all the goods are used
at home
• The shop has traces of past decisions and people – the idea of these traces should be preserved
• It should be beautiful – New Cross does not offer many visually pleasing places
• It should secure sales

 

For the big front room we wanted to create a good overview, inviting atmosphere and decrease the claustrophobic feeling that were there. We decided to use the three elements light wood, copper color and organic form for. The three pillars were designed with this, and the elements used in a simple way around the room. The floor with simple gray vinyl. This room is for snacks, magazines, lunch, Lottery, drinks, etc.


For the other shop window room we wanted to create a homely atmosphere. The floor with black and white tiled vinyl. This room is for breakfast and dinner.


For the back room we dressed it all in a strong bright red. This room is for non-food products and video rental.

Goldsmiths Degree Show 2000 (London)
Research Room

Research for the ‘Corner Shop Project’

 

As part of the research for the ‘Corner Shop Project’ I used Goldsmiths Degree Show to gather information and generate ideas:

A set up of easy seating, music, tea and cold water, in a room with carpet and windows to the yard of Goldsmiths. Here the visitors were invited in by the host, me, and told that this was research for a community art project and I encouraged them to participate. Visitors to the show could express their views and ideas via:

Questionnaires about shopping, and events related to shopping

Hot Box, where two people talk about what supermarkets could be used for other than selling products

Video Soap Box, where one person talks to a video camera about meeting new people and places they like to be in

 

The role of the artist and audience was inverted so that the audience was the one with the interesting and sought after knowledge.