Mutiny in the Aquarium

Dora Martinkova is an inspiration. Not only has she conjured entertaining movies with kids from our neighbourhood, but their animations have started clocking up awards. ‘Lost in London Town’ (2010) was shown at the Museum of London and now ‘Mutiny in the Aquarium’ (2013) is featuring in this year’s Take One Picture display at the National Gallery. Lucky for us, Dora’s creativity is contagious, from storyboarding stage through to happily ever after…

Dora Martinkova

Don’t assume her animation classes are all about fancy apps. Traditional artistic skills such as drawing, painting and model-making are all put to use (usually via Dora’s own inspired prep work), plus children learn how new technologies can be used to create something original. By creating short animated films, Dora’s students boost their computer skills, learn to edit simple audio and operate basic animation software, but they also find out about the art techniques needed to create characters and scenery. A big part of these projects is having the kids work as a team. Their cooperation is like a massive mosaic: they learn how to create characters and scenery from their own imagination, then how to put all these elements together to result in a collaborative animated film. And what better memento than a credit on an entertaining movie you helped created?


Dora is a graduate of the School of Printing and Graphic Design, Brno, Czech Republic and a graduate with distinction in Graphic Design of the College of North West London. She created the Media Club at Malorees Junior School in 2007 and she now hosts an Animation Club at Maple Walk School. A huge benefit of these longer-term projects is that it cultivates focus and commitment. Since the kids on her courses know that their finished picture, model or collage will be used in the animated film, it helps them to concentrate and remain patient as well as exercising creativity. Dora also gives them a chance to record their voices for the animation, so that they get to hear themselves and develop their narrative skills.

Dora also collaborates with Jelli Tots Nursery to run an animated project designed for children as young as four. How many neighbourhoods give little folks a chance to be filmmakers? Take a bow, North-West London. At such a young age, making art is not just a fun way to keep nippers busy either (attention, alpha parents!), it helps whippersnappers develop a range of skills in a way not many other projects could.

So next time you stick them in front of Charlie and Lola: just think, they could be giving Lauren Child a run for her cute cute-outs. Drawing, building models and creating collages are some of the ways Dora’s animation-making also help develop motor activity.

mermaid2Dora couldn’t have been kinder or more patient as she helped my daughter write, animate and direct a short film for her sixth birthday, and now we have an entirely original film – Katie, the Singing Mermaid (pictured, left) – as made by Kitty and her friends.

Many of the animations Dora helps children make get screened at the Lexi Cinema – which means you might even have seen one at a public viewing on a Saturday morning. So Cannes and Hollywood, best save a little strip of red carpet for the kids of little ol’ Kensal Rise, hey?

‘Mutiny in the Aquarium’ will be shown as part of the Take One Picture display at the National Gallery, in the Annenberg Court from Wednesday 21 May until Sunday 21 September 2014. For more information go to Dora’s website, Schooling the Imagination.


By_Grand_Central_Station_I_Sat_Down_and_Wept_Cover“Hello my name is Anne-Celine and I’m a bookoholic”

For one night only, during Social Book Week, the locally-based Kensal Review opens its doors to the public for a relaxed discussion of Elizabeth Smart’s By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept to raise money for The Reading Agency. Here Anne-Celine Jaeger looks at her life in books and remembers how the Kensal Review came to life… Tickets £10; includes a G&T or a beer.

John Waters, who co-wrote Hairspray once proclaimed, “If you go home with somebody and they don’t have books, don’t fuck ‘em!” I can’t say I’ve road-tested his theory –  “Hold the pecker handsome, can I just have little peek at your bookshelf?” – but I know that without a book, I feel naked. Starkers. Like a bird recently hatched. I’m not talking about the vulnerable, exposed kind of naked, but the cold kind of naked, where you miss your feathers, your down comforter, your loquacious chum, who will chirrup you to another place.

If I look back on my life, there was hardly a period when I didn’t have a paperback to hand (still haven’t converted to Kindle, despite much protestation from fervent Kensal Review user Milly). I have memories of walking to primary school in Munich, absorbed in a dog-eared copy of Peanuts. Hardly a literary classic you might say, but it was a buddy in the form of a book nonetheless.

foreverThen there was the year when I devoured Judy Blume books – the teenage page-turning equivalent of 50 Shades of Grey meets Wetlands – covering topics such as menstruation, masturbation and teen sex. To this day I remember that in one book, Forever, a boy introduced his penis as “Ralph”. Not only did this make me chuckle, but it made the whole topic of sex accessible and funny when I finally got round to it. Judy Blume led to Sweet Valley High (you got to start somewhere), Sweet Valley High led to Wir Kinder Vom Bahnhof Zoo by Christiane F., which led to The Cather in the Rye, which in turn led to other more compelling, challenging reads.

I ended up studying literature, and for four years had to read several books per week. Not even this diminished my love of reading. Whatever the book I’m reading, it comes with me. On the tube, into bed, the bathtub, the toilet… Also, no matter how tired I am at night, I read a bit before I switch off the lights, or say hello to Ralph. It washes away the busyness of the day, the endless involuntary email and message checking, and leads you to a fresh kingdom. It’s a balsam for the spirit. Dr Seuss nailed it when he said: “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” (I Can Read with My Eyes Shut.)

A few years ago, when my literature degree was a thing of the distant past and I felt like the world around me was at best locked into heated discussions about house prices, I felt an urge to create something where debates went beyond “How not to get gazumped on Glengall Road” and founded the Kensal Review – a local, members’ only club, with a focus on discussing the arts.

Upon founding it, I had little idea of what exactly I wanted it to be other than a vehicle to promote analyses of books, plays, exhibitions and more in an intimate setting. By the second meeting, we had a dozen committed members and realised that we couldn’t actually handle more as it meant discussions exploded into animated splinter groups, where everyone fought to hear everyone else. “Post-modernist what?”, someone would shout, or “Didactic why?” So an intimate number we have remained and have since had 27 energetic meetings, where we have covered topics from Joan Didion and grieving to Outsider Art from Japan. A number of meetings have taken on mythical status in Kensal Review lore, and have been coined as phrases so we have “The one where we discovered the other meaning of pterodactyl”, “The one where Bruce read better than Melvyn”, “The one where Tim Lott thought we were reading his other book” etc.

tim lottBut no matter how debauched (booze) or degraded (digressions leading away from the art/book world and towards sex) the get-togethers become, they all turn out to be heart-warming, enlightening encounters, where we enthuse, tear down, annihilate, worship and dissect the book and artwork in question. Also, through books, this includes novels, non-fiction, self-help texts, sacred texts, we have become close as people. We’re like the Waltons, except that we head to Waterstones not World War II. We have helped each other through divorce, loss, birth, the ups and downs of relationships and occasionally even… I daren’t say it… mortgages. There are hugs, high fives and at times even tears. It’s like group therapy. Except here the therapist is always the book, and we are the addicts.

To join the Kensal Review during Social Book Week on Tuesday 6 May at the Paradise By Way of Kensal Green, please donate £10 ASAP: and print off your donation and bring it on the night. All proceeds go to The Reading Agency, a charity whose mission it is to help people become confident and enthusiastic readers.

 And buy the book By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept and read it! It’s short…


Lark London opens at 52 Chamberlayne Road, Kensal Rise NW10 5RL
( – shop online from 10 April 2014)…

Kensal Rise has a new fashion boutique, thanks to style-loving birds of a feather, Phoebe Pring and Lucy Olivier. Fashion forward, yet refreshingly affordable, with low-key luxury labels and chic street wear… Perfect for Kensal’s tribe which is less flashy than its Notting Hillbilly counterparts.

Lark London by @ParkLifeBlog

“Kensal women are cool, creative and fashion-savvy,” Lucy tells


Buono café: a Salusbury Road secret

February 15, 2014

A top tip from local photographer, Mark Tamer: Buono is tucked away in College Parade at the top of Salusbury Road. It’s run by three lovely Italians; Francesco, Francesco and Leo. They serve really nice home cooked Italian food from a menu that changes each day and the prices are very good. Coffee is excellent [...]

More life in the park

De la Seoul, Dock Kitchen style

February 9, 2014

Stevie Parle changes the menu regularly at Dock Kitchen – but his latest taste excursion to Korean is one of the most exciting. The chef treated us to a taste of the set menu, which is currently available until 22 February. So, book a table asap, get to this chic restaurant next to designer Tom [...]

More life in the park

Kensal to the Cotswolds: hotels fit for your Valentine…

January 21, 2014

A perk of my professional life: I get to see a lot of sexy bedrooms. No, I’m not a high-class hooker – my day job is editor-in-chief at Mr & Mrs Smith. And with Valentine’s Day coming up I thought it my duty to navigate you to some love nests, should a romantic escape be [...]

More life in the park

Ramble On Retreat: proving hiking is sexy

January 18, 2014

Anne-Celine Jaeger tells us how two long-time NW10 residents founded a retreat to give Oprah Winfrey’s favourite Ashram a run for its money… Why leave NW10, when you’ve got it all – Minkies, the Shop, Frame, and now even a Brooks the fishmonger – on your doorstep, right? Wrong. Sometimes, when you’re tired of dodging dog [...]

More life in the park

Take a trip to Japan and Central Saint Martins via Kensal Green…

January 11, 2014

Lucky old us living in cosmopolitan NW10: just received this message on Facebook: sounds great hey? ‘I am setting up my “Japan meets Central Saint Martins” style art club at my house in Kensal Green for children age 5 to 10 year olds, starting in March…’ For more information, go to: Sonoko Obuchi’s website Sonoko’s creative [...]

More life in the park

(Very) Special Yoga with James Giuseppi

January 10, 2014

Do good for your mind, body and soul – and for children with special needs – just by attending a yoga class this Saturday 11 January 2014, with James Giuseppi at Special Yoga, in return for a donation. Time: 5.30pm to 7.15pm Place: 1st Floor, Tay Building 2a Wrentham Avenue, Kensal Rise, NW10 3HA Reserve a place [...]

More life in the park

Happy hardcore holidays

December 18, 2013

Thanks for this audio-visual goodness: Tis the Season to Be Jolly with Brooklyn Artists Reed + Rader’s Christmas Rave… Happy Hardcore Holidays

More life in the park