Megan Dowsett is a freelance creative consultant working with museums and galleries.

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.

Her core values come down to two simple things:

People: At the heart of everything she does, people are there – be it audiences of any age or background, volunteers, staff or freelancers and apprentices. She believes that the best projects take everybody with them on a learning journey.

Creativity: In every role she’s taken, creativity has played a key priority. Working in Museums and Galleries, creativity brings a valuable opportunity to think about the same things in a different way.

Museums and galleries are the perfect place to bring the joy of discovery and magic of adventure to everyone who passes through the doors - and to invite those who haven't yet braved these sometimes intimidating buildings, to do so in a dynamic and inviting way.

Over twelve years working in these exciting settings, Megan has developed extensive experience in both managing and delivering creative projects that engage with a wide variety of audiences.

20 March 2018

Squash and Carrot Soup

Our artist friend Wendy Horler is forever saving, drying, cutting, painting bits and pieces from her garden and her kitchen.  She's fascinated by watching them rot, but also by watching them change as they dry out and the sculptural forms she can build from them. 20180111_130639 20180111_130620 20180111_130555

Feets and I are, of course, 100% inspired by this, so I've begun to save bits from our own cooking and dry them out on the radiator.  Usually they end up all over the floor and then in the bin, but this time our mutual patience led us to pick them all up twice before I left Feets and Bean to make pretend soup in their cooker.  When that ran out Feets asked if she could paint them.  I was reluctant at that moment (I admit!) so we agreed she would colour them with pens instead. 20180303_131505
A happy hour later, and I am blissfully collating Feets' coloured bits into some kind of floral design.  Bean is sorting out the lids of the felt pens and Feets has moved on to making a storybook.

Thanks Wendy!

13 March 2018

Granny and Me: Back to Plasticine

I am illustrating a book, my first commission of this kind - a memoir, written by a mother for her baby son. She asked me to do it after seeing Across the Sea, which is why I said yes. A joy to be asked to do something similar to previous work rather than imitative of some unknown style!

It's a rollercoaster adventure, a gorgeous, luxurious opportunity to spend many drawing hours at my desk. An incredible, intense learning curve - one moment I realise just how much I am 'growing up' through this journey, and the next, how much I still have to learn. And yes, right now, a wee bit daunting as I watch time slipping away. 20180213_113714 20180227_120508

First things first - I returned to an approach I find immensely comforting - to make my characters from plasticine and draw them. Creating Mummy and Daddy in bed, with whatever I had to hand as props amused me enormously!

6 March 2018

Roald Dahl's Story Centre

In a brief spell after the workshops, I took a peek into the Story Centre at the Roald Dahl Museum.

And was utterly inspired ...

What a magical place to play with words.
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I quietly put the writing part of my mind to one side years ago.  It returns in articles, blog posts, diaries and in the stories I tell my children, but I haven't put pen to paper to write a story for a long time.

And the Story Centre, targeted of course towards children, set my imagination going too.  It made me feel that we should ALL be writing - that, just as we are all artists, we are all writers too. 20180210_164808 Most inspiring, perhaps, was the thoughts, inspiration and processes of popular children's writers of today.  As an illustrator, I often hear my insecurities saying 'what do proper illustrators do?'  It feels as though I need to conform to an idea of how artists should work.  And just like artists, it turns out that every writer has their own approach.  Roald Dahl set himself up in his hut every day, while JK Rowling writes somewhere different every day.

Watch this space ...

Oh - and I made a 15 frame animation for my lovely Mr Liam. 20180210_164729

27 February 2018

Early Excellence

20180206_160402 I joined the Early Years Network for an exploration and introduction of the Early Excellence Centre in Canada Water.  It's a gorgeous place, full to the brim of beautiful displays to inspire the best in learning for 0-6.  Gorgeous in part, because the displays are new, unused and uninterrupted by eager but clumsy hands. 20180206_160451 But, incidentally, nurseries and schools almost always impress me with their ability to re-set with inspiring set-ups and arrangements every single day.  Knowing, of course, how difficult it is for me to keep on top of merely two small children and their mess!

Inspired for now by ideas of multi-layered learning through blocks, from building bridges to putting them away in correct numbers on shadows of their shapes, and of multi-sensory transient art, crystals and light boxes, I've also stored away a pile of good intentions to find out more about how small children learn and how they see the world. 20180206_160419 I was also a little unnerved to realise how my mindset has slowly adjusted to the new status quo.  In the past, I would have sniffed to find that the work of training schools in teaching for early years was done by a business rather than a charity, or indeed a council organisation.  Now, I was pleased to find that they had found a way to make it work ...

20 February 2018

From Bag to Beast

After years of making lampshades from plastic bags, it seemed time to push the boundaries of audience and time frame for working with this luxurious medium.  Last weekend I delivered short workshops for families at Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre.  Sadly the weather didn't favour us with the glowing sunlit backdrop that I hoped for, but still, we managed a lovely array of beasts from our new textured material. 20180210_125548 Little time to gather photos, and sadly the weather was not in the mood to light up our creations but here's a quick shot.

30 January 2018

Schools at Brixton Windmill

I have spent the past three months reviewing the schools programme for Brixton Windmill.  It has been an incredible journey, and I've learnt a huge amount about my local area - what a privilege to do a project on my own doorstep!  From cogwheels to maps and census documents, and folktales to historical costumes, I've traveled a long way in a short time.  Watch this space for updates to the website.20180122_110021 Over the last couple of weeks, I've delivered trials of the four new primary workshops with local schools.  It's rewarding to work directly with this audience again, and no matter what innovative learning strategies I'm able to offer, to be reminded that the most exciting and enriching part of any educational visit is the building itself.

This adventure has brought me face-to-face with the national curriculum once more, and exchanges with so many people - teachers, volunteers at the Windmill and fellow Museum professionals - have left me feeling empowered, enriched and excited for the next step on my journey.  I've also had ample opportunity for reflection, sitting down with the impressive Friends of Windmill Gardens to consider what their aims for the learning programme are, which audiences we most want to work with and how best to achieve that.

Time for a morning off!

14 January 2018

Laydeez do Comics

Blog 1 I was delighted to stumble across Laydeez do Comics in an old email, thrilled to realise I could actually attend the next gathering, and brazenly offered my blogging services. Having, admittedly, not quite realised the brilliance of my blogging predecessors. Blog 2 An awe-inspiring evening in the gorgeous Teahouse Theatre, a warm, warm welcome and a whole bunch of creative people who do not require me to turn up reliably at every meeting - most exactly what I need! A new book that seems to have taken my precise life situation and put it into pictures and writing, thanks Richy K Chandler. Blog 3 And a new book to come that looks likely to embrace all my dreams about the potential of a graphic novel and tell - well, a much-needed story. Thanks Lucy Sullivan.