Page last updated at 10:14 GMT, Tuesday, 7 April 2009 11:14 UK

Empire building... the Lego lure

By Nuala McCann
BBC News

Child playing Lego
Not just for kids... adults are returning to lego

Freud might have concocted a theory about adults turning to childhood toys.

But as the credit crunch bites and headlines are full of mortgages, bills and work, a group of adults release the stresses of a hard week in Belfast by relishing the childhood thrill of sitting cross-legged in front of a big bucket.

Lego, the little yellow, white and red plastic bricks that can be used to build whole miniature worlds are the focus of a new evening class at Belfast's Crescent Arts Centre.

Lego lover and class tutor Gerard Bedell from Randalstown, County Antrim, likens the toy to a form of yoga: "It is all about creativity and stress relief."

The Lego Factor classes have already run for a term and have attracted a variety of people including an architect, a social worker, a sports teacher and a care worker.

The ages of those Lego lovers range from 18 to 65. Mr Bedell would like to see more women attending, but anyone who has ever trampled barefoot on a small Lego brick might understand such reluctance.

Plans are afoot to build a giant Ferris wheel and robotic dinosaurs.

Escapism

"When we started the adult classes, we planned a kind of X-Factor event building kits and having a grand finale with judges," he said.

"But we changed this as we found that the adults wanted to socialise and have down time. Lego is about relaxation and a bit of escapism - you can achieve anything with lego."

For the architect who now works on computers designing buildings, Lego offered a chance for hands-on creativity and a return to the source of his first love of design.

And Mr Bedell has warm memories of building Star Wars scenes with his old bucket of Lego.

"I don't think there was actual Stars Wars Lego back then, but I improvised," he said.

He is keen to offer local companies the opportunity to see their buildings in Lego in exchange for sponsorship.

Lego is not cheap and the arts centre would happily accept any second hand bricks.

Liz Donnan, manager of the Crescent Arts Centre said: "We are delighted with the response to the Lego classes. The Crescent tries to encourage creativity and offer something out of the ordinary."



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