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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Sally Kindberg displays Surprise Packaging at the Art Workers Guild Table Top Museums event

Last weekend I added my Museum of Surprise Packaging to twenty-nine other collections of the strange and wonderful for one day only at an annual Art Workers Guild special event, the Table Top Museums.  Last year I displayed my Museum of Dust.  This year it was Puffing Sailors, a Pocket Trout and other niche delights. Since I was an art student many years ago I’ve been collecting striking or just plain surprising packaging, some of whose contents don’t always live up to their printed descriptions …

I included the Friskies Squeaking Chop, which I bought about twenty-five years ago in a Prague supermarket, when I was working as a travel writer,  while queueing behind a couple of monks.  When my daughter was very small we had a good luck ritual (especially useful if you were in a bad mood) called ‘Squeak the Chop’.  To make my display more interactive, I encouraged visitors to make a wish and get squeaking.  And they did.

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Sally Kindberg in Pentonville Prison

Some years ago I ran a workshop in a London prison, and recent publicity about the state of prisons reminded me that not much has changed or rather, it probably hasn’t improved. I’m an author and illustrator, often run workshops for all ages, and was asked to do a drawing event for prisoners on one of the prison’s family days, when some fathers, through their good behaviour, earned a visit from their families.

Pentonville Prison, built in 1842 to house 600 prisoners, then had about 1200 young and adult men serving short sentences or waiting to be sent on to other prisons.

I was invited to do a recce the week before, after having my fingerprints taken, handing in my passport and mobile phone, but not my shoulder bag. Prisoners, some a bit over friendly, were wandering about aimlessly outside their cells. There was an overpowering, sickly smell of chemicals. I was accompanied by the family liaison officer. I asked about one prisoner in a wheelchair. ‘Oh that’s J,’ said the officer, ‘he’s in and out here all the time,’ she said sadly. ‘he robs post offices and such like, always a bit slow escaping.’   The cells were tiny, each one with a two tier bunk bed, very low on the ground. ‘To discourage anyone hanging themselves,’ I was told. Prisoners sometimes stored food in their cells, to the delight of visiting cockroaches and rats. There was a stained toilet in one corner.

After the recce I crossed the road outside the prison and had a cup of tea at The Breakout café, where samples of prisoners work was displayed on the wall. Or it might have been work by the prison officers, who nip in here for cups of tea and huge fry ups.

My event wasn’t initially a huge success as children were more keen to see their dads than do much drawing. There were tables to draw on, but awkwardly low on the ground, to stop forbidden items being passed underneath.  Apparently sometimes the babies’ nappies are checked for forbidden items being smuggled in.

I made a clothes line of string so drawings could be displayed – I’d encouraged participants to invent astronauts and space related things – and we held a competition. One of the prison staff introduced me to a large man who I think was a governor or maybe boss of that wing. He joined in and made a drawing. Another member of staff hissed: ‘Let him win the competition!’ I didn’t because there were far better children’s drawings.  I wasn’t invited back.









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Sally Kindberg at the Fitzrovia Fete 2023

With thanks to all the Fitzrovia Fete visitors, who with my encouragement, pulled faces and/or drew them. This included newsreader and local resident Paddy O’Connell (who opened the Fete), and poet Jimmy Andrex amongst others.  There were musicians, more poets, an ancient teddy bear, mysterious and moustachioed wheelbarrow racers. Pollocks Toy Museum and the Cartoon Museum  were there too, all organised by the wonderful Fitzrovia Community Centre.

It was good to see copies of the comic strip histories being enjoyed by readers of all ages if they weren’t drawing, and an added bonus at the end of the afternoon, I had a ride in a wheelbarrow …







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Sally Kindberg, Nottingham Castle and a work in progress again

Nottingham Castle often features in my stories. When a small child, I often had to stay in my grandmother’s house, one of whose cellars had a bricked up door, apparently leading to a network of tunnels honeycombing the nearby castle rock.  I visited the Castle tunnels last year. and collected a tiny pinch of dust for my Museum. My grandmother wasn’t a happy woman.  Sometimes she sang hymns in the middle of the night, if there had been a ‘sighting’.  The singing was much more alarming than any potential ghostly apparition.

I loved exploring the Castle, its exterior often wreathed in thick fog, and was intrigued by its dusty and eclectic displays. Years later, my great-grandmother’s frock, a poison green and black silk affair, was on show in one of its glass cabinets. It has since been moved, and is now stored in Newstead Abbey, once Lord Byron’s home. In the 1970s, Nottingham University used one of the sandstone tunnels under the castle for cosmic ray experiments.


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