Adults find themselves addicted to the joys of ‘mindful colouring’ at local library

You know that perhaps a zeitgeist has peaked when you turn up to a story arranged weeks ago to discover that two television channels have only just picked up on the trend and are there for their in-depth four-minute pickups.

Media mayhem is a new experience for the Botany Downs Library Fun Fridays.

Librarians Leigh Reinhardt and Deborah Williams can only look on and laugh.

They had an inkling that when they added a mindful colouring group this winter to their weekly craft gatherings there would be a demand - both Ms Williams and her boss Jolene West have been keenly colouring in for more years than they care to admit - but they've been taken aback by just how popular the trend is.

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"We started Fun Fridays in February to encourage people to try something different, to show them all the great resources in the library and to help the community connect with each other," explains Ms Reinhardt.

"Debs and I hang out at Whitcoulls, and one day we bought a mindful colouring book. The manager told us they can't keep these books on the shelves.

"We do lots of children's activities, but this is for adults, it's their time."

The library's first colouring workshop convened in July with 22 attendees, 15 were at last week's third one, with another breakaway group of 10 regulars off on another project.

The noise in the bright, glass-walled room overlooking the shopping centre movie lobby was as deafening as in any kindergarten, yet Ms Reinhardt said this was the first time many of the women (it was all women, no men) had met.

The group ranged in age from retirees to young mums.

"There's not a lot of time any more for adults to play. Life is quite serious, even leisure time is stressful," she says. "There are colouring groups online, places where people share and photograph their work, but this is about community."

"You forget how important play is - well, adults need that too," adds Ms West.

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"We stress that for children's learning it switches on a different part of your brain. Mindful colouring is interacting with other people, being in the present, not worrying about things at home or work. You can just sit down and start a conversation. And sometimes those are the best conversations."

The library downloads colouring sheets from the many sources on the internet and provides mugs of pencils, but it is clear that there are some addicts. I am 6 again, as I spy Senga Barrett's enviable box of 48 colours and zoom in.

She's as pleased as you'd hope with her bargain box, and, with friend Judy Thomas is constantly keeping an eye out for good discounts.

Mrs Thomas says she caught on to the big doodle pad trend a couple of years ago, but loves this group.

"Because I'm disabled, I can't do too much. So this is actually about meeting new people, it's a social activity, rather than 'mindfulness'," she says.

"It's very therapeutic. People think 'I did that as a kid', but this gives us permission to be children again."

One woman recalled colouring huge safari posters in her native Africa 20 years ago. She's new to the group, but already hooked on searching for perfect colours to add to her collection, experimenting with gel pens, crayons and pencils.

She laughs that the rest of her family are entirely digital - "for them, holding a pencil is not an option"- so the like-minded souls in the Friday group are her people.

Cheryl Stone was introduced to the trend by a daughter who had seen it in Europe. "It's nice to do something with your hands, I'm not artistic at all."

Her neighbour Heather Wallis says, "If I see something, I can copy it, but I don't have the imagination to start. It does calm you down, it's very relaxing, you don't have to think it through."

Ms Williams is just back from a holiday in England and was blown away by seeing the books everywhere, but didn't know of any other real life - not digital - groups. She asserts that the work is creative.

Needless to say, the library has on display plenty of books to extend the creative brains - zentangle (drawing patterns within patterns), creative doodling, keeping a scribble diary - and a raft of crafting workshops coming up to put the coloured pages to use (apparently involving a wonder glue-type material Mod Podge).

It is not too soon to add a box of pencils and a magic colouring book to your Christmas wish list.