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.

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.

3 August 2018

BP Portrait Award

I popped along to the BP Portrait Award with a friend - a perfectly sized exhibition for a Friday evening!  It's been a while since I visited a painting exhibition so it was interesting to see what's going on in the world.

This is Mrs Anna Wojcik by Monika Polak, and I was baffled by it for a long time, trying to understand her thoughts in painting the flowers on the clothes 'flat' in a painting that was otherwise so realistic and 3-dimensional; also why she chose to echo the fabric of the jacket in the background ... until I finally realised the whole painting was on floral fabric.  A bit slow on the uptake sometimes!  But it turns out Monika Polak has worked on a whole series like this and I think they are magical.

The Oolographer by J.J.Delvine was also a great conversation starter - from trying to understand how we'd go about creating a self portrait from the side (do serious artists ever work from photos?  They have me believe not but ...), to piecing together the choices made in selecting each picture around his studio.  And the questions continue - I couldn't figure out how 'real' this picture was, and how much it was a 'facade' - is Delvine actually into studying bird eggs (apparently Oology is a thing!), or is he playing with us?  Where does the play start and stop?

As Nicole and I discussed the first painting (by Jesus Maria Saez de Vicuna Ochoa), we found ourselves drawn into conversation with a man who (understandably) simply couldn't believe the picture was not a photograph.  Since I am currently reading The Participatory Museum by Nina Simon, I was amused to find myself a visitor, fulfilling one of the deeper levels of engagement that she describes!

I frequently find myself mulling what our key aims are as museums and galleries, and also within a learning team.  Something has changed in my (and I think the sector's) mindset over the last twelve years - a kind of evolution from the primary focus being the requirement to learn something, towards (at last!) allowing for a more open-ended possibility.  The idea that a gallery or museum can simply be a space, and that each visitor might respond to it and use it for different purposes.  But the greatest achievement of all is perhaps the moment when people who came to use the space for one purpose (perhaps a picnic, a place for the kids to run around, a place to sit down), find themselves connecting with someone else through an exhibit ... and perhaps discovering something something new about themselves, their tastes, their interests.  

9 July 2018

Mind the Gap

One of the most creative projects I've worked on recently, Mind the Gap is an interactive adventure which I worked with immersive theatre company Specifiq to develop for London Transport Museum.

It was an awe-inspiring journey in so many ways - absolutely amazing to bring school groups into the empty Museum Depot, and to watch their reactions as they arrive; magical to transport them on a journey of imagination that generated quotes such as 'Miss, I'm a bit scared but I think it's going to be alright' and 'do you know where she is?' as well as 'I thought it was going to be boring but it was the best day ever'; and a true adventure to me to work with Oscar and Becky, co-directors of Specifiq - to think outside the box and watch some loose ideas shape into real-life adventure, as well as to learn so much about the world of immersive theatre.

Sessions are on a 'soft launch' this term, with full operation from September.

I am now back (part-time) at the London Transport Museum as Schools and Interpretation Manager, which allows me the joy of seeing how the sessions unfold over the coming year!

5 June 2018

Playdough Fun

20180519_103124 20180519_103124 20180519_103124 Feets' playdough set has kept us happy for a long time. One of those sets I would snottily say 'we don't need to buy it, we can make it'. But then I so rarely made it, and before you realise it, time has passed and your precious children are deprived of playdough! So she gratefully received a 'cooking' playdough set, complete with pasta maker and moulds for all sorts of food. Which, this time, we joyfully subverted into faces. A collaborative effort, of course!

29 May 2018

Garden on a Plate

20180510_143751Did we all do these when we were little? It's such a funny, random, theme for all those summer shows. A flash back to the 80s - or did it continue to the present?! 20180510_145737
Anyway, since Feets decided to start collecting blossom so she could plant it in the garden, I suggested making a garden on a plate. It kept us all very happy for the best part of a day, despite the need to keep Bean away from Feets' plate, which was of course far more intriguing than her own! We went to the park to collect sticks, stones, fallen blossom and leave, and then made playdough to plant the broccoli and blossom into. 20180510_143615 The whole project came to life when we thought to bring the fairies and dinosaurs into it, and then build a bridge between the plates, and then bring out a saucepan of water to form a river under the bridge ...

(and yes, Bean tried to eat the broccoli!)