Sally Kindberg’s Museum of Dust Part One – Great Wall of China dust

dust museum 2I’m slowly adding to my Museum of Dust,  and each tiny bottle has a tale to tell.  My plan is to have a miniature travelling museum of dust and related stories.

In the early spring of 2012 I travelled to Hong Kong, Suzhou (as recommended by Marco Polo), and Beijing, taking part in book festivals, running workshops and generally being surprised by what I encountered …


One freezing, foggy morning in Beijing I travelled to the Great Wall at Mutianyu. 90km to the north-east of the city.

This is what Mutianyu looks like in the summer (thank you but not in early March, when it performed vanishing tricks in drifts of icy fog.

The building of walls along China’s northern borders began around the fifth century BC and carried on till the seventeenth century.  The section I visited was built in the fourteenth century but renovated in the 1980s. Apparently the original (super-strong) mortar holding the walls together was a mixture of slaked lime and …  rice porridge.

This caused understandable bad feeling amongst the poor,  peeved to see their rice harvest used by Ming overlords for a showy-offy Wall.

So, my specks of Great Wall of China dust may be the remains of ancient rice porridge, or a twentieth century Chinese version of Polyfilla …

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Sally Kindberg’s Knee Diary

Thanks to NHS and kind friends and family I’m on my feet (both of them) again …

knee 1

knee 2knee 3

knee 4

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Christmas at Kindberg Towers

xmas-scene-copyGreat to have friends round at Kindberg Towers and celebrate Solstice and Christmas etc.  The figure on the left is a replica of one of the wonderful Lewis chessmen – a Queen discovered in Uig on the west coast of the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides in 1831.  Last year I ran workshops at schools round Lewis, and this piece was a present from Joe M at arts centre an Lanntair , a memento of my visit.  The Queen caused a security incident at Glasgow airport on my way home, which meant I had to unpack everything from my suitcase, as she was at the bottom and set off an alarm for some reason.  The central figure at the back is from Barcelona, and the robot is one from my collection (of about 90 I think).

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Review of my Draw It! London book

img_0823A great review from Miku M (aged eight) of my Draw It! London book. Available from the Museum of London shop amongst others.  And here.

Thank you Miku!

‘I loved this book !!! This is a half drawing book and a half reading book. It has got lots of fun facts about London including more than 200 stickers!!! It is a book you can take with you on visits to places such as The Zoo,Big Ben and other sites. My favourite page is called ‘Lost In London’. It tells you all of the funny things that were lost in London such as human skulls, boats and lawnmowers. MAKE SURE YOU READ IT (and draw in it) !!!’

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At Give A Book’s fifth anniversary celebration

p1010742On December 8th to an event at Daunts bookshop in Holland Park, celebrating five years of charity Give A Book with whom I hope to be working  in 2017. Patron Lady Antonia Fraser, trustee Victoria Gray,  Simon Jenkins, Paul Johnson, Felicity Kendall were some of the guests.  Steve Whitmore the policeman who started Books in the Nick was there in uniform, but wearing rather unpolicemanlike shiny black, pointy shoes.  He blew his whistle – “It’s the first time I’ve ever done this!” – to get people’s attention before some short speeches.  Lovely to chat briefly with 89 year old Shirley Hughes, friendly and upbeat.  “I’ve been asked to do another Alfie book,” she told me, “He never grows up you see.”


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Sally Kindberg’s workshop at the Guardian’s Reading for Pleasure conference

hat-of-surpriseBusy and buzzy day at this year’s Guardian Reading for Pleasure conference organised by Margaret Holborn and chaired by Julia Eccleshare.  Talks by successful Beetle Boy author MG Leonard, author/illustrator Emily Gravett and lecturer in literacy and children’s books Prue Godwin. Disappointingly MG Leonard didn’t mention the fantastic cover artwork and illustrations artist Julia Sarda made for Beetle Boy.  Much networking, tea and biscuits in between. Cake came later. Workshops by Artis,  and artist/educator Shelagh McCarthy of the British Library.  My (oversubscribed) workshop Bring A Character To Life was with primary school teachers, librarians, and representatives of charities including Victoria Gray of  Give A Book, all full of inventive energy …


Participants chose a character at random from my Hat of Surprise and told a story using four frames of words/pictures to show its personality.  These then met the character next to them and off they went on a journey of adventure and discovery.  All this in one hour – after a Powerpoint of images showing characters from different children’s books, some (brief) live drawing and a couple of creative relaxation exercises to get everyone in the mood.  Phew!  And very impressive results from everyone – hooray!

With thanks to Elli Narewska of the Guardian for photos …

reading-for-pleasure-25-nov-16-133reading-for-pleasure-25-nov-16-123-1 Continue reading

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My children’s book about London


Great to see copies of my Draw It! London  book (published by Bloomsbury Childrens Books) at the Museum of London shop today!

sherlock-holmesI so enjoyed (over) researching this book … waiting for low tide so I could see where the Fleet flows into the Thames (and listening to its gurgling progress by standing over a drain cover), checking out mummies  at the British Museum, discovering that you can buy broomsticks at Kings Cross station, climbing 334 steps to the top of Big Ben (officially the Elizabeth Tower btw),  and finding out about gladiators in Roman Londinium for instance …
gladiatorravenmasterI’m especially grateful to those who took part in my mini-interviews. I chose people whose roles might inspire young readers – a female firefighter, a keeper at London Zoo, the Raven Master at the Tower of London, a Vice Lord Lieutenant of London and a female member of the River Policing Unit. I didn’t really need to go on patrol with the River Police, but they kindly let me travel on the Thames with them, and at the Tower of London I not only chatted with the charming Raven Master but encountered the then alpha male raven, who greeted me with a gruff hello! Just some of the tremendous perks of being an author …

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Sally Kindberg’s drawings for Twiddling Your Thumbs – hand rhymes for children by Wendy Cope

twiddling-coverI illustrated Wendy Cope‘s Twiddling Your Thumbs  for Faber & Faber many years ago but had an emailed comment today from author, reading champion and academic Dr Alison Baverstock :

Sally, I have just bought five more copies of Twiddling your thumbs. It’s always been my standard gift for anyone with a new baby and I find I am now buying copies for a whole new generation!

Twiddling Your Thumbs had a German edition, renamed Dorotheas Daumen, published by Carlsen Verlag. It’s unusual for a book of rhymes to be translated I think – or so publishers always say.twiddling-snailtwiddling-bus-stoptwiddling-chomp

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Primrose Hill walls and shelves

p1010624When not working at my desk I can get distracted by arranging stuff on my shelves and pin boards.  Every item has a story to tell, so it’s like assembling a visual diary.  Some robots have been consigned to a cupboard, many others are still above my desk, and can wake me at night if the vibration of a passing train – I’m close to Euston mainline tracks – activates their creaky clockwork …


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Sally Kindberg at the Bank of England Museum again

bank-of-e-museumBriefly called in yesterday to see Jenni Adam, curator of the Bank of England Museum, who commissioned me last year to do some work for the museum’s fab Gold display. Great to see Jenni again, and my illustrations and text on the museum’s wall!


Afterwards had a cup of tea in a tiny cafe in nearby St Mary Woolnoth, a Hawksmoor church.  There’s been a church here since the 12C, the first one probably built over a Roman temple.  The crypt was once used as a ticket office for Bank station underneath it.  You can sit in the cafe’s only armchair in peace and warmth, drinking tea and reading one of its poetry books.

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