A while back, we ran a piece about the spooky timeslips of Bold Street. A stubborn urban myth about a wormhole in Bold Street that transports you to another place and time.
Maybe there’s something in it. We’ve just walked down the city’s great boho procession and been transported to post war Britain. From Bold Street Sweets’ Willy Wonka-style candy sticks and gobstoppers to Shared Earth’s patchwork pillows, the windows are awash with whimsy.
When the Liverpool Institute legend that is Neil Buchanan starts churning out collectible prints of cabbage patch urchins in Hope Street – and gets an entire window display for his £500 canvases – is it an Art Attack too far?
“Our country is filled with great craftsmen and women who produce wonderfully innovative and passionate design that draws on tradition whilst focussing on modernity. There is more to life than twee floral prints and cross-stitched birds.”
So what of the current crop of big name whimsy mavens? Do any pass Sutcliffe’s taste test?
“Orla Kiely’s taken a theme of graphic prints and used them very cleverly to push an appealing collection of appealing fashion and homewares, she doesn’t slavishly recreate,” he says, of the Irish designer’s punchy prints and patterns decorating biscuit tins and pencil cases in Utility, John Lewis and gift shops throughout the world.
“I think the balance of colour and modernity reached its zenith in the 50s and 60s from designers like Robin and Lucienne Day,” Sutcliffe says, “but they had to battle against the enthusiastic amateur.”
Despite it all Sutcliffe falls short of telling us to give up that subscription to cross-stich monthly.
“If the choice is a home filled with whimsy that’s been produced with time and effort over a supposedly glamorous pad that resembles pages from a Next catalogue then give me whimsy just use it sparingly please, you’re not a fairy.”
Maybe. But our advice is simple. If you’ve a sudden urge to fashion a tea cosy out of some left over lagging and an old tea towel make sure there’s an adult present.