Sally Kindberg’s Corona Virus Diary

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Sally Kindberg’s books – some of my backlist

The first published book that I both wrote and illustrated – over the years I’ve illustrated hundreds more! Lutterworth, 1986.

Two of four books published in 1986 by Grafton, then part of Collins Children’s Books.Robotina Finds Out, about a cheeky and curious robot and her companion. Faber, 1990.

Published by Macmillan in 1991, I over-researched as usual but great fun, and research is never wasted – results might appear later in another guise!

Rat a Tat Tat was a book of traditional rhymes for young children, with additional ones written by me. Macmillan, 1992.

Hair, Walker Books, 2003, with its counter display pack.

One of seven Draw It! books, Bloomsbury up to 2013.

 The Hand Book (of hopes and dreams), Design For Today, 2019.

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Sally Kindberg’s workshop with Andrew Wille and Words Away

Great fun and intriguing results when Andrew Wille and Wordsaway asked me to join them at a Water Ways writing workshop – one of a series – and get writers drawing, in my invited role as a Wave Maker. Very exciting!

What better way to warm up than close your eyes and draw a self portrait in the dark?  Then I asked participants to choose a character from my trusty Hat of Surprise and make a four frame story – using my version of a yonkoma manga structure. There were fish involved btw.

Here’s amazing book doctor Andrew Wille, who devised the workshop day with Kellie Jackson Here he is with his special Simon Seahorse self portrait and a four frame comic strip. We all had appropriately watery noms-de-plume for the day (I was Seashell).

And here’s a bit of a four frame story I started on the workshop flip chart …Some comments …

A.W: Thank you for bringing drawing and your energy into class

E.A: Brilliant day … playing with drawing and finding new ways of seeing

K.J: I especially loved the exercise where we closed our eyes and sketched our own faces – hilarious and illuminating results!

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Sally Kindberg looks at painting palettes

I’m currently a RLF Writing Fellow at City & Guilds Art School, and when not seeing students or getting on with my own work, it’s good to have a brief walk through the studios. If there are no students about – they’re probably in a lecture or having a crit somewhere – they sometimes leave these mysterious clues behind, looking as if they’ve been suddenly discarded, and full of painterly possibilities.

My own mixing palette is made of white ceramic, generally washed clean of its watercolour ink stains, but pinned over my work desk is this palette shaped postcard, sent from Venice in the 1980s.

Just found a notebook page from 2015, at an exhibition visit to Turner Contemporary in Margate, which had Turner’s palette and paintbox on display.  Note the handy addition of morphia in his paint tray.


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Sally Kindberg’s work in progress (pencil roughs)

Pencil roughs for work in progress Unfinished Business, an unreliable memoir in comic strip form.  It’s moving slowly, but moving at least …

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Sally Kindberg, jellyfish and drawing in the dark

Last week I visited the Eco-Visionaries exhibition at the Royal Academy in London and, along with eight other visitors (numbers were limited each time) in a darkened room, watched moon jellyfish perform slow and hypnotic movements across a screen.  How much can you draw in the dark? There is no pressure to draw perfectly, the darkness encourages a feeling of freedom of expression.  Soon I will encourage workshop participants to draw sounds only, in complete darkness, and look forward to seeing the results.


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Sally Kindberg at Swedenborg’s birthday party, and a review of The Hand Book

Yesterday was the launch of the second Swedenborg Review and a delightful celebration of Swedenborg’s birthday. Devin P. Zuber gave an intriguing talk about his new book A Language of Things. Amongst other topics his talk considered the threat of extinction to many wildlife species in the 19th century,  but seemed to ignore the fact that the original peoples of America were facing extinction at that time.

The latest Review mentioned my Hand Book, now on sale at the Swedenborg House shop, and includes suitably mysterious and evocative photographs of Swedenborg’s summer house by Anonymous Bosch, using a pinhole camera. I’m particularly interested in the summerhouse, re-sited in Skansen near Stockholm, which I visited one summer when I was a very small child. A visit to Skansen features in Sputnik, my graphic story, a work in progress. I’m looking forward to running another workshop at Swedenborg House in May.

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Sally Kindberg in Cambridge: carols, the Astronomer Royal and Dan Dare

What do you wear when visiting an Astronomer Royal?  Star socks of course. Lovely friends Bridget Marzo and Kit Prendergast invited me to join them on Christmas Eve for a festive treat – to attend a Kings Chapel Carol service then to a small party held by the Astronomer Royal and his wife.  A professor of anthropology wearing a tweaked felt cap introduced herself and studied me briefly. ‘You’re not one of us, are you?’ Bother, I’d been spotted as an outsider in the rarified atmosphere of Cambridge academia. The blue streak in my hair was a giveaway apparently. Or the socks.

One of the many children’s books I’ve illustrated in the past is The Comic Strip History of Space which I rather shamelessly brought with me to give to the AS, although suggesting it might be a little on the young side for him, as it’s aimed at readers of six upwards.  He has since told me he’s lent the book to a young space rocket designer (aged ten).  The AS was a delight to talk to. We chatted briefly about the possibilities of future space exploration and its implications, and discovered a shared admiration for Frank Hampson’s 1950s comic space hero Dan Dare. 

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Sally Kindberg’s workshop at Swedenborg House again

Very happy to be asked to run workshops at Swedenborg House again, and wonderful to see more impressively creative work from children.  One family came back for the third time!  I encouraged children to draw a comic strip about their inventions – Swedenborg was a prolific inventor – after a session drawing facial expressions with the help of young volunteers who pulled faces for us all.

The Swedenborg House Bookshop very kindly made a fabulous display of some of my books, including the Draw It! series, published by Bloomsbury, and The Hand Book (of hope and dreams) published by Design For Today.

Downstairs in the Magic Lantern Room, where children drew with quills and pots of ink in 18C fashion, you could see a copy of Swedenborg’s Books of Dreams.

There were two consecutive workshops, a chance to explore and draw using my Swedenborg leporello, then tea, chats and book signing afterwards.

A great afternoon, and many thanks to a fantastic team of volunteers!

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Sally Kindberg’s workshop for the Guardian and British Library Learning

Last week I took some intrepid space explorers (see above) to the Guardian to take part in their Reading For Pleasure conference.  The explorers were popped into my trusty Hat of Surprise so that a dozen or so primary school teachers could pick one and decide on their characteristics before taking them on a journey of exploration, overcoming (or not) all perils on the way.  Great fun and some intriguing results from participants.


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