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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Sally Kindberg, Doctor Who’s 60th birthday and TARDIS dust

Happy 60th Birthday to Doctor Who!  Ten years ago a very kind Doctor Who production manager sent me an Encyclopedia Gallifreya bottle containing an impressive amount of dust from the TARDIS. By chance this arrived on my birthday.  A tiny sample of TARDIS dust is now in the Museum of Dust. 

After my travelling Museum appeared in Falmouth’s Cabinet of Folklore and Magic, I donated another tiny bottle  to the Cornish venue, where it appears next to a werewolf detecting kit, always handy, behind a special stone.  Photo above taken at the Falmouth Cabinet of Folklore and Magic by Joana Rosario.



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Sally Kindberg and sloths

It’s funny how the same images and interests pop up again and again in my work over the years! This rather battered copy of ‘Fascinating Facts’ was one of four published by Grafton Books (part of Collins) when my daughter was young.  There’s  also a mummy on the cover, and mummy dust is one of the additions to my Museum of Dust by the way. But note the sloth in the top right hand corner as well as those appearing inside the book. I used to take my daughter to London Zoo, and we were both fascinated by this slow moving creature.  Later on I included Marilyn, one of the Zoo’s resident sloths, in another book, Draw It! London. Last week after an enjoyable meeting with a member of Zoo staff discussing some workshops I’ll be running there in early 2024,  I  decided to re-visit Marilyn.

Here’s a quick notebook sketch of Marilyn, fast asleep in the fork of a tree. An attendant told me: ‘sloths sleep sixteen hours a day, the rest of the time they’re thinking about it’.  In another corner, Leander, Marilyn’s husband, was also snoozing, while their new daughter Nova was napping under a bit of log. It’s tricky to see which end is which when they’re curled up.

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Sally Kindberg and the Triola

A few weeks ago while looking for something else entirely I discovered my daughter’s old Triola, a musical instrument made by C.A.Seydel Sohne, a kind of melodica made for children.  What a delight! To avoid annoying my upstairs neighbours, I took it to Hampstead Heath, found a deserted bosky corner and improvised.

The following weekend I took it with me on one of my favourite walks across the Thames estuary salt marshes, up a little windy hill to the ruins of Hadleigh Castle and tootled away, to the amusement of a few people enjoying the autumn sunshine.

After I mentioned my upcoming workshop at Swedenborg House to a journalist from my local newspaper, the Camden New Journal, he interviewed me by telephone …





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Sally Kindberg’s House of Dreams workshop again at Swedenborg House again

Last week, once again, eighteenth century polymath Emanuel Swedenborg‘s summer house inspired another workshop event at Swedenborg House. His summer house is in the grounds of Skansen, Stockholm, which I visited when very young.

Above, a rough drawing before drawing the finished template.

Had the memory of the Summer House stayed in my mind, only to surface years later after I started running workshops in Swedenborg House in 2017?  The summer house is a special place, where its owner wrote, played music, planned his garden, thought about his inventions, maybe wrote his Book of Dreams?  I made a card template of the house, for participants to fill with their stories, their inventions, their hopes and dreams for the future, before they cut it out and folded it into a stand alone house with a little garden in front.

Always a delight when a workshop participant dresses up specially for the occasion.

How lovely to welcome participants of all ages to the event and see their creations.  Eighteenth century music, recorded in the summer house, played gently in the background, I played a very short piece on my Triola, children and adults alike concentrated on making inventive interiors of their Houses of Dreams, new friendships were formed, before everyone folded up their houses and took them home.

This comment from a Swedenborg House staff member: Well done on such a successful event! It was lovely to overhear ambient sounds of chamber organ and laughter as I was working yesterday.

This was sent from a participant: Heartfelt thanks for the Wonder of Your Workshop!

And a couple of participants couldn’t make it to the venue so worked from home …




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