Bathurst woman realises dream of dance-inspired colouring books

BATHURST resident Marjory Wilson recently re-launched a dance-inspired colouring book in Ireland after being prompted by her daughter, Anne Wilson, who very much loved the original colouring book Marjory created for her as a young girl.

DREAM COME TRUE: Bathurst resident Marjory Wilson recently re-launched a ballet colouring book, and published a second book on ice-skating. Wilson created the first edition in 1979 with drawings she made for her daughter Anne Wilson. Decades later Anne has helped her mom publish the books in Ireland, which are now enjoyed by her grandchildren

In 1979, when Anne was only six years old, Marjory collected her from Kenton-on-Sea Primary School and presented her with the first copy of The Anne Wilson Colouring Book Ballet, a collection of the drawings she had created for her daughter to colour in.

“Several people from that era may remember obtaining their own copies from local craft fairs,” said Anne.

The book was subsequently forgotten until a few faded copies were unearthed for Marjory’s first grandchild, Ruby, in Ireland.  Ruby coloured her way through several books, and started adding curtains, chandeliers, flowers, butterflies and even dancing poodles to the scenes.

Anne said she remembers her mom expressing a wish to create three books on subjects that she was particularly passionate about. Marjory forgot about the idea when she returned to her teaching career at Bathurst Primary School.

“Her art was largely put on hold until she retired.  It was a chance conversation when she visited me in Singapore that got me thinking,” Anne said.

Anne, who works at a pharmaceutical company, has had the resources to explore innovation in some depth, including the trends and technologies that are rapidly re-shaping the world.

“I proposed the idea that we re-launch her ballet colouring book.  Actually, I challenged her to complete all three books – with the promise that I would figure out how to get them on if she did,” said Anne.

Now in her seventies, and her granddaughter now six years old, Marjory’s dream was realised when first book was published in Ireland.

A year later, the family celebrated the launch of her second book, on ice skating, and the day before Marjory returned to South Africa, the local radio station contacted her for an interview.

Marjory’s colouring books are not quite defined as “adult colouring books” (usually double the price and defined by intricately patterned mandalas).  Since Marjory loved dance, teaching children and art – her wish is to share that love with anyone, young or old, who wants to enter her magical world of movement and colour.

“This is not a conventional colouring book – much to her initial horror, I have included old black and white photos of Marjory in a ballet tutu as a teenager and in an ice skating show in Johannesburg in her twenties,” said Anne.

“It encourages children to follow their dreams.  My hope is that it will be an inspiration to anyone who thinks retirement means having less impact on the world,” said Anne.

In between digging in the garden and fixing fences, attending her art group on Fridays, and looking after her husband and two dogs, Anne said she hopes her mom will still make time to sketch as they have one more book to create to fulfil her wish.

The two books were discussed and refined over many breakfasts at the Halyards Hotel where Marjory used to meet her good friend, Ann Kelly, every Wednesday.

Marjory taught at Bathurst Primary from 1994-2008 and has always been fascinated with dance movements, colour and art. “They are part of me and been passed on to my granddaughter Ruby,” she said.

“As a teacher, I never ceased to be amazed at the ability and potential of children.  I’d packed my colouring book idea away, and never realised the impact it had had on my young daughter. I was thrilled when she not only revived the idea decades later, but used her corporate skills to make it happen.  I was never quite sure what Anne did in the banking or pharmaceutical industry.  Now I know: she gently cracks the whip until your idea happens in a better way than you actually imagined! It was a new experience to work with her, but it’s brought us even closer,” Marjory said.

Marjory’s eldest granddaughter, Ruby, has shown the most interest in the books, “from the moment she could hold a crayon. Not only did she colour in the pictures prolifically, but she surprised us with the ‘Tutu Fabulous’ phrase when she was just five,” Marjory said.

Ruby has become involved and also help created other characters in the books, like a masked dancer, which led to Marjory creating “Charlotte”.

“I hope to inspire my grandchildren, Ruby, Graeme, Amber, Kesia and Scott to never give up on their dreams, however long it takes”, Marjory said.

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