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Britons are having an art attack as they look for new hobbies to ease their credit crunch woes, according to number one art supplier Winsor & Newton.

The firm, which has been supplying art materials to budding artists since 1832, says the current economic situation has led to an unprecedented rise in demand for its products with set sales up 30% year on year in some outlets.

Paul Robinson, Technical Advisor at Winsor & Newton, says the surge in interest in art has even led to an increased influx of visitors to the company’s historic factory and museum in Harrow, Middlesex.

He adds: “The credit crunch has made us all think again about how to spend our time and money. Painting and drawing are still incredibly popular throughout Britain and we have noticed increases in the take up of both during previous economic downturns – but nothing on this scale.

“Painting and sketching is cheap and helps you forget your worries, as well as giving you the opportunity to create something unique that could make a great Christmas gift. Or you could encourage a stressed friend or family member to take up art by giving them a suitable present this Christmas. Who knows, the current economic downturn could even spawn the next Damien Hirst or Banksy!”

Winsor & Newton’s experience appears to be part of a revival of more traditional hobbies in light of the current economic downturn, with other activities, including sewing and baking, also experiencing a revival.

High street retailers, including John Lewis, have witnessed rocketing sales of sewing machines in the last year, while sales of bread makers are up 57 per cent as families choose to go back to basics.

There is also evidence that some jobseekers are turning rewarding hobbies into careers, becoming ‘career crafters’ and choosing to sell all sorts of creations from soft toys to woolly jumpers.

Dr Ilona Boniwell, a Senior Lecturer in Positive Psychology at the University of East London, comments: "Taking up an engaging hobby, such as painting, baking or sewing, is one of the best routes to well-being and beating current economic blues. In addition, it enhances your creativity, sense of autonomy and competence. The fact that the necessary tools such as painting and drawing equipment don't cost the earth is probably an additional factor."

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For further information contact:

Caitriona Kavanagh/Sian Bevan/Nikki Thomson
Richmond Towers Communications
26 Fitzroy Square
London W1T 6BT
Tel 020 7388 7421 /

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