Sally Kindberg in the Lake District Part One: Kendal

Always take essentials when travelling, especially when you’re heading for the Lake District to run a workshop, take part in a comics festival and do a bit of exploring.

When not running my workshop there were comic-related talks and events to investigate, comic creators from around the world to chat with and a great market to visit – Cecil’s sausage etc stall looked like a meat-lover’s heaven.  I’m vegetarian by the way.

LICAF‘s series of pecha-kucha (Japanese for chit-chat) were intriguing. Quantum mechanics eh … some notes I made at one of these I attended.  At least I think I was there.

Very early in the morning my hotel in Kendal was evacuated – the fire alarms went off. Apparently a guest had been over-enthusiastic with his deodorant spray which activated the alarms system.  Sleepy half dressed guests stumbled outside into the rain before being told it was a false alarm.  Rather than apologise, the over-deodorised guest then complained to management about a cobweb in his room.  Had he been inspired by the Halloween decorations in the hotel lobby I wondered?

After my busy workshop at Kendal Library I was entertained by Edward Taylor’s Godzilla vs The Fatberg performance using a kamishibai (Japanese paper theatre) made by his partner Sue Auty.Good to see make-up artistes Bunny and Chip in action again in part of LICAF‘s Family Zone.Saturday night in Kendal was LICAF‘s Leather Night Party, referencing Tom of Finland comic books.  I opted for a quiet dinner with friends, although I spotted several aficianados staggering down to breakfast in the hotel the next day, and Tom of Finland appeared in my LICAF goody bag …

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Sally Kindberg’s Monster Menu workshop at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival 2019

The LICAF theme this year was … monsters.  Gurgle, groan and slurp etc! My workshop suggestion was to come up with an idea for a monster’s menu to go on a Monster Bake Off TV show.  Thirty or so fabulous monsters turned up at Kendal Library, part of the Family Zone, one of the festival venues.  As usual I was super impressed by monster makers’ inventive (and at this workshop) truly vile ideas.  There were a few prizes of packets of Eyeballs with strict instructions not to eat them.  Or feed them to pets or babies.  Ghastly!  And great fun.

Good to see some of my other Draw It! books on sale at LICAF’s Waterstones table.


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Sally Kindberg’s visit to Nottingham and some family stuff

Last weekend I went to Nottingham, where I grew up (although born in Devon), whose castle had a lasting impression on me. The image above is a frame from Unfinished Business, an unreliable memoir in comic strip form (always changing) and a work in progress. I spent some of my early childhood living with my grandmother, whose house – regularly exorcised – was close to the castle. Perched on top of a huge rock, the castle was often obscured by thick fog in those days.  This weekend there was no fog, but the castle is again obscured, this time by scaffolding and sheets of polythene, while it waits for its reincarnation as … a Robin Hood Experience? Or something similar. I loved climbing up the castle hill with its views over the Trent valley, and exploring the castle corridors, looking at the dusty and sometimes melancholy contents of its museum. Until the castle closed for its renovations, my great-great grandmother’s dress was on view in one of its cabinets – a silk frock of poison green and black.  Arsenic-based green dye was used in Victorian times, often with dire consequences. The dress is now stored in Newstead Abbey.

I was in Nottingham briefly to see my niece and her family, and to go to the birthday party of two of my oldest school friends, twins represented on their birthday cake by their achievements as an academic and a tango dancer – they’ve both done other things as well!

During my visit I walked round the Forest, once part of Sherwood Forest and now recreation grounds, and the site of the annual Goose Fair every October.  Above it is a cemetery where my great-grandfather is buried, I wasn’t sure exactly where, but thought  this memorial was rather appropriate for some reason.  With apologies to the occupant.

My great-grandfather Sir Thomas Shipstone  was a beer baron, philanthropist, a bit of a dandy and a kindly man apparently.

Later I discovered some other Shipstone relatives buried in the War Graves section.

En route to the railway station the next day, my bus was re-routed due to a murder on the main road below my hotel leading into the city.  In the city centre I walked past what was once an ancient inn, the Flying Horse Hotel, long since re-invented and converted into retail units but with interesting details on the facade, possible added or embellished in the 19th or twentieth century?

 When very young and (unwillingly) accompanying my grandmother here for saturday morning coffee – my grandmother had a habit of tipping plates of biscuits into her handbag when the hotel staff weren’t looking – I recognised the singer songwriter Gene Pitney sitting opposite us, and was struck dumb not so much by his fame as by his handsome but curiously orange face.

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Sally Kindberg’s talk at the Swedish Church, London W1


Yesterday I gave a talk about my work at the Swedish Church to an audience of about thirty ladies and several vicars after their special Thursday lunch.  There was a very brief drawing demo.  Prints of some of my work,  The Hand Book (of hopes and dreams), and copies of my first Draw It! book, co-editioned in Sweden, are on display and for sale in the cafe next door. Until the end of September.

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Sally Kindberg’s exhibition of at the Swedish Church Cafe, London

Yesterday at the Swedish Church in Marylebone, London, putting up an exhibition of prints.  Trying to be relaxed about having my photo taken and not really succeeding. Next week I’ll be giving a talk there about my work and maybe persuading people to draw …

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Sally Kindberg’s visit to Dorset

My journey last week from London to Axminster didn’t start well. South Western Rail decided to cut the number of coaches from six to three, and these were packed.  En route at Gillingham we were told to leave the train as there had been ‘an incident’. We later learned that sadly an unfortunate person had gone under a train ahead of us. Several people were taken ill en route and were tended by kind railway staff.  I had to travel back early from Lyme later that week due to a rail strike – the RMT union is fighting the decision to abolish guards on trains. What would happen on a guardless train if and when  there are ‘incidents’ and passengers are taken ill or worse?

Seven hours later I reached my b&b in Uplyme, dumped my luggage and walked a mile or so down a delightful lane and along the little river Lim for supper at the  friendly Lyme Bay restaurant and a restorative walk by the sea.  The following day I swam from a sandy beach, shaking off city pressures.

My room at The Old Black Dog b&b on the Dorset/Devon border overlooked the gentle wooded slopes of the Lim valley. Directly below was a lane, once the main route into Lyme, said to be haunted by a large black dog.  There was a black dog at the b&b, but a friendly live one.  I think.  At the bottom of the narrow lane was a sign and another, more overgrown spur, signposted ‘Roman Road’, leading down to a tiny river bridge, once a ford perhaps?  Apparently a Roman highway from Dorchester to Exeter ran along here, so maybe this was its ancient leafy footprint.

I was almost born in the sea, in Devon, so it is a magnet to me, and as a child I hated leaving the seaside for the dark and foggy Midlands. Before coming to London later to seek my fortune …

I picked an alder leaf from the side of the Lim as a momento when walking to Lyme, wearing my seaside scarf of polka dots on the way to the sea.  Joy.

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Sally Kindberg’s Space Trail workshop at the Institute of Physics Family Day

What a fantastic day at the Institute of Physics on saturday at their Moon Adventure Family Day!  Over one hundred and seventy people came in to draw comic strips and their journeys into space, and encouraged by an army of volunteers, made space badges, tried to assemble Lego whilst wearing astronauts’ gloves and posed for photos.  As well as exploring space by drawing it, families explored the Moon Adventure exhibition in this great venue close to Kings Cross in London.

The workshop wasn’t exactly a game with dice etc (my original idea above) as there were logistical problems with so many families dropping in at different times, but what brilliant ideas from those taking part!  A space hotel, a melting planet, shark spacecraft, a diversion to the sun, alien attack, the Rubber Duck asteroid – and lots of other challenges  including my contribution – a couple of Black Holes.  Luckily I’d included a Health & Safety warning, so no astronauts were lost.  As far as I know.  Great to see children reading copies of The Comic Strip History of Space afterwards.

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Sally Kindberg’s comic strip workshops at the Institute of Physics

As it’s the anniversary year of the first moon landings, the current exhibition at the Institute of Physics is all about the moon, where I ran comic strip workshops yesterday. After some live drawing all about facial expressions and using comic strip framing, I encouraged children to become space explorers, asking them to draw their adventures.  What challenges and/or dangers did they encounter, and how did they overcome them?  One story showed an astronaut trying to write in zero gravity, with her words just floating away, another involved cosmic cake … immense fun, and exciting to see children gain confidence in their narrative and drawing skills throughout each session. Great stuff!

Here’s a page I drew for the youngest children in the workshops.  They drew faces on the astronauts and the very youngest did some colouring in.  I’ve included Ed White’s glove by the way.  He was the first to do a space walk in 1965, and lost one of his gloves, which circled the earth for about a month before burning up in the earth’s atmosphere. And here’s a photo of the floating glove …

PS Although he didn’t actually come to my workshops, cartoonist/artist and occasional astronaut Glenn Marshall kindly decided to add some facial expressions etc to my space characters this morning …


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Sally Kindberg’s visit to Herne Bay Cartoon Festival

At last I got my timing right and managed to catch Herne Bay Cartoon Festival  and chat to some of the many cartoonists doing their stuff on the pier, and enjoyed putting faces to names. Good to see Martin Rowson again, this time painting a bottom – its cheeks eventually transformed into the faces of Trump and Johnson.

Great to catch Glenn Marshall’s moon landing, complete with dry ice (it drifted away), the soundtrack of 2001, dancing and the Clangers – what fun! Then an ice cream at Makcaris (established 1931).  They specialise in unusual flavours such as, erm, Marmite or Mushy Peas, but even one scoop of their plain chocolate was a bit too much for me.

I wandered up to the wonderful mosaics by Rob Turner near the Clock Tower, past the statue of inspirational aviator Amy Johnson, visited the town’s excellent Seaside Museum and nipped into the Divers Arms, intrigued by its history and painted pub signs, some of which were in a little courtyard round the back. Its motto translates into ‘while I breathe, I hope’ by the way.

The original pub was opened in the 1830s by former smuggler William Wood, who’d been transported to Australia.  On his return to Kent he worked as a diver for a salvage company. It’s said that he paid for the pub with money he’d made salvaging treasure from a Spanish galleon shipwrecked off the Irish coast. The Divers Arms is now a live music venue, and is apparently haunted by a man in a bowler hat – shouldn’t that be a diving helmet?

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Sally Kindberg’s children’s book Funny Fingers

A cover proof of one of the children’s books I wrote and illustrated some years ago for Macmillan. Interesting to see Mr Punch has managed to appear on the cover – he always manages to pop up every so often ..

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