Putting Lancashire in the picture... colouring books for adults

Miller Park, in Preston
Miller Park, in Preston
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With Christmas around the corner it is not just children who will be hoping to find a colouring book in their stocking. Louise Busfield investigates the new fashion and leafs through Lancashire’s own colouring book.

Colouring books are no longer just for children.
The growing demand of adult colouring books has created a whole new leisure activity for all ages not just youngsters and has become so popular that even huge brands like Vogue have released their own range of colouring books specifically aimed at adults and Vogue readers.
Professor Cary Cooper is an expert in psychology and health at Manchester Business School, Manchester University, and believes simple escapism is behind the fashion.
He says, “I think it’s become popular because people just need a break away from a much more pressured life than they had when they were kids and colouring in books, that era is gone.
“We lead much more frenetic lives and this is an opportunity of escaping that for a period of time, having some personal reflective time and just giving you a stress free from all the pressures of life.”
Prof Cooper believes colouring can provide benefits for grown ups in reducing stress and providing a moment to take a break from extremely busy lives, something many adults rarely seem to do.
He said: “It takes you away from all the things that are troubling you. It forces you to concentrate on colouring the book, but it also takes you back to a less stressful time in your life when you were a kid and reminds you that from time to time you need some personal reflective time.”
For most people their childhood represents a lot of happy memories and thinking back to that period in life when feeling down or stressed can sometimes help reassure the situation.
Taking time for you just to concentrate on something completely different than day-to-day life can lift the burdens, even if only for a few hours making all the difference and providing a number of health benefits in the same way that walking or visiting new places can help.
Understanding the need to de-stress and building upon the idea of visiting new places to distract people from their busy lives, The History Press has launched a new colouring book for people of all ages, aiming to help people to unwind and have some time to reflect.
The book, ‘The Lancashire Colouring Book: Past and Present’ is the latest in a series of regional colouring books and features 45 illustrations of landmarks from across the county including Lancaster Castle, The Harris Museum and Lancashire’s rich countryside. Leah Grant, of The History Press, says the rise of social media has helped fuel the new trend.
She says: “The rise of colouring books is part of a wider ‘digital detox’, offering an alternative way to switch off and absorb oneself in a creative and relaxing pastime.
“The trend has been fuelled in part, by social media, as people have been uploading their coloured creations to platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest – thereby gathering fans and marketing their therapeutic effects.”
As well as helping people to relax colouring also fills the free spaces in people’s lives which they are less used to having in an age when any spare time often gets filled swiping through social media platforms or scanning the Internet.
Doing two things at once seems has become more commonplace with people thinking nothing of browsing a smartphone while watching television or reading a tablet while listening to music, for example.
In this world, having something to do other than staring at a bright screen has made colouring a welcome alternative choice.
Health is becoming a bigger concern for people and after hearing the list of benefits colouring can bring the trend can only get more popular.
Dr Sandi Mann, a psychology expert at the University of Central Lancashire, says: “Colouring is something that has just the right cognitive load to allow us to be doing something, but not too much that makes it too demanding.
“I find most people colour whilst doing something else, for example listening to music or even in a boring meeting.
“I think we are afraid these days of ‘doing nothing’, so always have to be busy, colouring allows us to meet this need.
“It also helps us cope with boredom. The repetitive nature of it, coupled with creativity, allows mind wandering and daydreaming, a process, which is pleasant and gives respite.”
The effect of this has meant several different versions of colouring books have been published over the last two years to meet the demands of consumers.
Ami Warnock, from Waterstones Preston store, says: “The Secret Garden and Harry Potter are the most popular colouring books available in our range.
“We have quite a large range now, the publishers have really capitalised on the popularity, so we are seeing more and more everyday.
“It’s quite nice because they have branched out into children’s as well and they’ve done some really nice classics ones.
“There’s an Alice in Wonderland, a Jane Austin one and a Shakespeare one as well, which is new in for this year.
“Our top seller of last year was The Secret Garden from Johanna Basford, which kind of started it all off.
“It was so popular it actually went out of print.
“That was last year’s best selling Christmas colouring book and we sold just shy of 200 copies of that book.
“Most popular this year are the Harry Potter ones, which dropped pre-publication of The Cursed Child and they also brought out brand new ones for The Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
“We have sold about 70 copies of the Harry Potter book.”

Preston's Harris Library

Preston's Harris Library

l The Lancashire Colouring Book Past and Present is out now priced £9.99 from The History Press.