Megan Dowsett is a creative consultant working with museums and galleries, and an illustrator who is finding her voice through personal and local projects.

Through the name Norris and the Flamingo, she shares the sense of adventure that runs through all of life, wherever we are on our journey. A sense of imagination, of possibility and discovery, for children and adults alike.

18 October 2018

Tate Faces

I stumbled across a lovely book in a charity shop a few years ago, that had been published by TateFaces.

It's like a source book of a thousand ways to spend an afternoon, whatever your age, simply on the theme of faces.

20180803_163208 I find that, whatever's in my head, the truth is Feets is much more excited about my idea if I can simply show her a picture.  So we sat down one afternoon and flicked through the book.  It didn't, in truth, last that long, before we were off, making faces of our own.  Feets made one out of duplo while I made one in the kitchen.  20180803_163156 Actually, this sparked a whole era of inventive duplo scultpures, but that's a different story.
20180803_164934 Later we went outside and built a face in the woods.  Unfortunately it made me realise that the best and simplest ideas often still have more complexity than meets the eye.  Doing one in the woods, we couldn't really find a way to make it show up against the messy background of leaves and twigs.  Feets didn't mind - we used stones, moss, a heap of cut grass, leaves and twigs. 
This leaf face was a (very) quick side project!

I keep finding that things work best with the kids when I'm excited about them for myself, too.  Those rare moments when we're all keen, and all working side by side...

11 September 2018

Mum Days

Sometimes I wonder why I post what I get up to with the kids on this blog ... it started when I was on maternity leave the first time, and trying to 'keep my hand in' the art of workshop delivery - 'workshops' with Feets were all I was doing for a time.  These days, I don't deliver so many workshops in my professional life and I'm certainly under no illusion that the mess I make with the kids is equivalent to running a conceptually inspiring creative arts workshop.  I also have far less opportunity to think through, plan and prepare for two children of different ages than I did when there was only Feets.

So ... is it to show off?  Brilliant Mum and all that?  Having spent time on the blogs of a few AMAZING creative parents who, as well as filling me with great inspiration, left me feeling rather inadequate, I wondered whether I in my small way, was ending up doing the same for other people.

The thing is, we do so much parenting utterly on our own, and the kids don't often say 'well done Mum, you're doing a great job'.  And my professional hat is noting that the activity wasn't very well anchored in real-life context, or I was a bit too controlling of the outcome, or I couldn't relax enough to let them really get messy, or ...

Sometimes you do just want to say 'well done me'.  And this is the place I do it.

But having realised that perhaps I sound like I'm trying to be a 'Super-Mum', I've had a bit of a think about what I'm doing here.  These pages are about my creative journey so, much though I've begun to mull the possibility of admitting the days when I'm distinctly NOT a Super-Mum, I don't think this is the place for that.  (But yes, I am often very impatient with the kids, I have been known to smack them, we don't make nearly as much use of the amazing cultural scene in London that you would expect of parents in heritage and education sectors, and we spend about 90% of our time with duplo.)

But also, there are parent blogs out there that do a much better, thorough and professional job of sharing ideas for creative play with the early years.

20180824_104126 I thought about stopping this strand of my blogging.  But right now it's a huge part of my creative journey and there's nowhere else to share the fun!  So, instead, I'm going to try and evaluate what we did a little more constructively - the things that worked and didn't, the things I'll remember to do next time, and how I got round having no preparation time, no outside space (and not much inside space).  Lets face it, most of the things we plan for our kids turn out completely differently to what I expected.  And most of the time, I haven't planned them at all and they'd work out a bit better with just a tiny bit more planning.

Also, since this is a large part of my blogging, if not my most professional part, I'll add a link to Mum Days on my front page.

So ... today's picture is a collaborative 'jungle' collage, made on an A2 sheet of newsprint by Feets, Bean and myself.  It was completely spontaneous and therefore lacked the focus and depth that I know Feets is capable of, but we had a lovely time doing it.  It had been in my mind for a while that as a collage artist, I haven't done much collage with the kids and it would be fun to make use of some of the magazines I've hoarded over the years.  To have Feets and Bean at opposite ends of the table was the only way, so we had to let go of ideas of 'top and bottom' of the picture.  We shared the cutting out.  And Feets' favourite picture managed to be a type of squid.  My lack of imagination for squid swimming through the jungle prompted me to suggest we turn it into a magnificent kind of plant.

And Bean in particular is loving tape at the moment, so we created some rain at what did, after all turn out to be the top of the picture.

This was huge fun in just opening up the possibilities of the medium of collage.  Thematically it might have been better if we'd talked about it more before starting - perhaps read a story to set the scene and gather ideas.  But then, that's the kind of planning I rarely achieve as a mother.  I usually end up telling myself it was better to have done it than not!

28 August 2018

Doodle Collage

Collage I saved all the bits left over from a collage, because I couldn't resist the patterns left behind. And the other day, I finally assembled them into as new world. It was fun and satisfying, and a great warm-up exercise to organise a limited collection of pieces into a quick little something.

21 August 2018

Edward Bawden at Dulwich Picture Gallery

Edward Bawden A gorgeous exhibition which tapped into my love of characters, nature and print, brought lots of posters from the Transport Museum, and generally ran me out of time long before I was finished!

14 August 2018

Gertrude Hermes at Gunnersbury Park

I recently made a brief visit to the gorgeous, new Gunnersbury Museum and Park. Came across Gertrude Hermes in the temporary exhibition space and loved her! I mean, woodcut, lino, black and white, right up my street, of course. What really stood out for me were the first two pictures, which both focused on her love of swimming and relationship with water, balancing the magical interchange of light and water with the physicality and sensuality of swimming, and bringing in something deeper, even sinister too ...

I also loved the texture of the clouds in Rooks and Rain.

7 August 2018

Blackberry Paint

20180727_152448 Having moved to a flat up lots of stairs and with a daunting commute, it's time to embrace the benefits - one of which is an abundance of blackberries. We have picked many, eaten many, stewed many, and the other day, we took some kit outside and mushed them up into paint. 20180805_120617 20180805_120636

What to say, really, beyond absolute glee over the harmless mess, joy over the richness of the colour (which sadly doesn't show so well here) and the chance, outside to try a range of messy paint activities without causing any damage at all. Bubble printing: a bit challenging to really get the bubbles going; flicking the brush: worked beautifully, though Bean mostly flicked the paint onto her face; tasting it; Bean found it tasted nicer without the washing up liquid! 20180805_120602 20180805_120646

Above, a machine for eating up the spare moons around Jupiter so there's only one left, by Feets; and, err, paint, by Bean.