Tuesday, 29 March 2011

The Story Behind Our Collections: Belle & Boo

Belle & Boo is a collection we fell completely in love with and knew we had to have in the Sisters Guild Boutique from the very beginning.  It is British design that we feel so proud to house.  Our passion for Belle & Boo grows each time a new illustration is created and when we see new things appearing that are adorned with Belle, Boo and friends, we are full of excitement.

There is something that is both familiar and utterly enchanting in the illustrations of Mandy Sutcliffe.  For Carla and I the images take us back to our childhood days in the Somerset countryside, where our home backed onto meadows and woodland and we spent all our time outside...in all seasons!

Belle & Boo expresses a childhood that is full of imagination, a place where you can escape into stories, absorb yourself in nature and play with creatures and friends.  Since becoming mothers the collection of Belle & Boo has even more resonance for us as we seek to bring beauty and wonder into our home for our children.  We know that there is a growing following that share this love for Belle & Boo and all the art prints, cushions, clothing, wall stickers...and now a quilt (oh yes!) that make our home space charming and enchanting.

Behind Belle & Boo is someone who must have quite a magical imagination, someone who can easily be taken back to a childhood time full of wonder and daydreams. That person is Mandy Sutcliffe.  Mandy has based Belle & Boo on elements of herself as a child and has been influenced by the work of children's storybook illustrators she grew up with, including Milly Molly Mandy, E. H. Shephard and Cicely Mary Barker.  Mandy studied illustration at Leeds Metropolitan University and part of her study involved a trip to France.  It was in the Parisian parks that Mandy’s love for illustrating children truly blossomed as she spent time drawing the beautiful French children.

The style and gestures of the children Mandy draws are so beautiful.  Belle and her rabbit Boo are depicted in friendship and discovery:

Other girls called Mia and Evie, play and explore:

And boys in gentle reveries:

The Belle & Boo collection is full of celebration, parties, picnics, play and adventure:

With Mandy's work you get a feeling that the illustrations should be accompanied by a poem or a story.
There are some scenes that I look at and get lost in, creating my own dialogue or daydream. There's a sense of romance in the collection, especially with the illustrations Lost, Found, Let's Hug and Meet me at Mike's.  This is another reason why we were so drawn to the Belle & Boo collection - there's a girlhood romance in the some of the images that conjours up memories of a boys hand first held, or walking in the woods and feeling a flutter of all the possibilities that lie before you.

It is not a surprise to discover that Mandy has had three books published, one of which she wrote as well as illustrated : Evie’s Seaside Lullaby and Goodnight Me, Goodnight You published by Orchard Books and Night Ride To Nanna’s published by Walker Books.  AND there is to be a Belle & Boo book.  We are so excited to know that we will be able to read and share a Belle & Boo story with our children and immerse ourselves in Mandy's beautiful illustrations even more.

For Carla & I, the magical memories that stay with us from childhood are from the storybooks, the pictures, prints and patterns that surrounded us. There are favourite things that have been preserved and carried with us from our childhood homes to our adult ones.  With Belle & Boo we feel that it will be the same.  These will be the pieces that will be adored and handed-down.  The objects our own childen will treasure and keep when they make their adult homes. They are the things that will carry memories and reminders of a place and time in childhood.

Enjoy browsing the Belle & Boo collection and the wonder Mandy Sutcliffe has created

This is part of our series of blog posts that reveal the story behind the collections and why we chose them for the Sisters Guild Boutique.  Read about The Story Behind ilovegorgeous here

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