Sally Kindberg at the Punch & Judy Festival 2024

Mr Punch’s appearance in London’s Covent Garden, first mentioned by Samuel Pepys on 9th May 1662, is cause for an annual celebration of all things puppet related in the church gardens of St Paul’s, known as the Actors’ Church.  This year the event was held on 12th May, in brilliant sunshine.  I missed the church blessing of the puppets and puppeteers, but bumped into two sisters connected to another fortuitous meeting I had here in 2012, when I got into conversation with their uncle, Punch & Judy Professor Leslie Press, whose father Percy Press has a commemorative plaque in St Paul’s. That 2012 meeting resulted in my having an exhibition about him.  Adrienne, one of Leslie’s nieces and also a Professor, very kindly let me hold Mr Punch – or maybe he held me?

Leslie’s Punch family were carved by Fred Tickner, who also carved Muffin the Mule. To my delight I discovered Muffin dancing on a nearby table.

On one of the many festival stalls were puppets carved in the 1950s in east Germany, according to the stallholder. One of them came home with me to have his wobbly head secured, and is now living with a friend.

 

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Sally Kindberg walking in London, April 27th 2024

Walking in London, April 27th 2024

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Sally Kindberg and St Ia

A while ago my interest in early Celtic saints resulted in a series of drawings. Walking in Cornwall has always been one of my joys, and the story and image of St Ia, patron saint of St Ives, gripped my imagination. She possibly didn’t actually travel on a leaf from Ireland, more probably arriving by coracle, but then I wondered what other forms of transport she might have used, powered by positive belief and optimism?

A recent trip to Penzance in Cornwall was challenging – it coincided with the arrival of Storm Kathleen.  Gusts of 45-50mph made my usual exploratory walks rather tricky.  If the wind (and rain) was behind me, which it was when I tried walking along the coast to St Michael’s Mount, I sped along. Flying was enjoyable until I was blown sideways and encountered a couple of walls.  It was the first time I’d seen the sturdy Scillonian, which takes passengers and supplies to the Isles of Scilly, sheltering in Penzance harbour.

I caught a bus to St Ives, which was relatively calm and dry for the couple of hours I was there, taking my image of St Ia with me, looking for the Holy Well I’d seen before, underneath a nut grove, in a ferny hollow below the path to Lelant.  This time the rain drove me back to St Ives, and I took shelter in the Huers’ Hut perched on a clifftop. In the old days a lookout known as a huer, with a giant conical megaphone and waving gorse branches above his head, would indicate the position of shoals of pilchards to the fishing boats waiting below.

Eventually, accompanied by St Ia, I drank a cup of tea at a cafe overlooking Porthmeor Beach, dreaming of the times I’d swum there, but now watching the surfers tumbling about amongst the waves.

 

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Sally Kindberg, International Women’s Day and almost spring

Happy International Women’s Day which of course should be every day! It’s almost spring, and already a busy time here.  Last month I ran another House of Dreams workshop at Swedenborg House, later going to a talk about the current exhibition there, and couldn’t resist writing on a blackboard in the room where I’ve previously held several workshops.

Earlier this week I ran another Royal Literary Fund Bridge writing skills session with sixth form students at a local high school in Southall in west London. Not only impressed by the students but by the diverse architecture of Southall, including a Victorian water tower (now apartments), a restored Tudor manor house and a Sikh temple, all in a busy urban setting.

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Sally Kindberg’s House of Dreams workshop at Swedenborg House

Where would you keep your magic numbers?  In your paper House of Dreams of course!

Just one of the many inventive drawings made on St Valentines Day this week during another workshop at Swedenborg House.  If you had a little wooden summer house in a quiet and safe location, preferably with a flower garden and a clear view of the sky, what would you use it for?

Eighteenth century polymath Emanuel Swedenborg‘s summer house was the inspiration for this event.

I’d first glimpsed Swedenborg‘s house when a very small child during a visit to Skansen in Sweden, where it still is today. My workshop houses are made of paper, ready to be filled with stories and images, then cut out and folded into spaces for dreams and transformations.

Houses were filled with balls of crochet wool and hooks, families, a penguin pizza restaurant, or customised with additional paper architectural features.  Swedenborg thought birds and fish represented ideas and facts, so I provided a few of those.  Some became weather vanes, or were house guests.

There’s currently an exhibition about Swedenborg’s summer house at Swedenborg House in Bloomsbury, London.

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Sally Kindberg’s workshops at London Zoo

If you can’t wear a pair of special ears while you’re working at London Zoo then when can you?  Last week I was invited to run two visual narrative aka comic strip STORY workshops with Zoo staff, as part of their annual conference.

Great fun, and most excellent outcomes from forty or so Zoo staff.  I was joined by one of the bactrian keepers, a vet, a red squirrel researcher, a shark expert from Wales, members of the finance and IT departments and the Zoo’s CEO amongst two groups of enthusiastic participants.

Photo above by Freddie Patmore 

Initially I briefly turned all the workshop participants into animals, using my Hat of Surprise magic.  See some of them below.

After resuming their human form, and a short talk and demo from me about basic story structure, participants then drew and wrote four frame visual narratives aka comic strips, on the theme of  ‘surprise’. Some wonderful stories emerged, including one by the Zoo‘s CEO, about the hen that lives in his house, who appropriately enough is called Housey.

 

 

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Sally Kindberg and the New Year

2024 started with a bit of a drama.  Laryngitis turned into a rather vile throat infection (epiglottitis) which meant I couldn’t breathe/swallow/speak.  After a difficult night I managed to get to A&E early in the morning – can’t remember how exactly but it must have been by Underground.  I wrote ‘I can’t speak’ on a piece of paper to show the receptionist.  University College Hospital staff admitted me quickly and were efficient and kind. Each morning an ENT doctor did the camera thing up my nose to look at my throat. ‘Would you like to see the video?’ he asked.  I declined.  Eventually I was able to swallow some mashed potato … bliss … I was ‘nil by mouth’ till then. I borrowed a pen from one of the nurses and drew on their whiteboard and later discharged myself, with a big bag of antibiotics.

I’m home, it took a while to feel back to ‘normal’, I’m still croaky, but at the weekend I had a lift to a Magic Lantern meeting upstairs from the wonderful Musical Museum, and here I am playing an ‘Opigan Music Maker’.  Back on form …

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Sally Kindberg and a bit of live drawing in London’s Limehouse

 

Recently I very briefly joined a friend, Bridget Marzo, at a Half Moon Children’s Theatre Festival, where she was promoting her next children’s book, and joined her and families drawing on the floor.  A very small person drew my portrait.  Great fun!

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Sally Kindberg and a glimpse of childhood

A glimpse of childhood, originally part of Stranger, a work-in-progress but quite possibly in another form or even another story.  Struwwelpeter was a big early influence.  And the Grimm Brothers.

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Sally Kindberg at The Great British Colouring Book launch

Last week was the launch of The Great British Colouring Book at the Cartoon Museum.  The book was a brilliant idea by the Professional Cartoonists Organisation and 38degrees, an antidote to mean spirited governmental banning of images welcoming children at refugee centres.  One of the cartoonists suggested the book might be bought for Robert Jenrick, the minister concerned, by his family as a Christmas present. It was most enjoyable to catch up with some of the cartoonists who’d each contributed a page, and colour in mine.  When my small daughter was at school and was asked what her mother did at home, she replied: ‘colouring in’. Sometimes it was and is a bit more than that, but what a pleasurable occupation for any age.  A signed copy of the book, coloured in by all contributors, will be auctioned to raise money for more printed books to be distributed, as a welcome gift to children coming to Britain.

photo above by @marshalcartoon

@jambookshop displays a copy at the launch

@marshalcartoon displays cartoon elegance

And an update on Robert Jenrick’s activities.

 

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